Here are some for the things that have entered or crossed my mind at some point:
- When Sammy was born I had two fairly close friends, whose parenting style I greatly admired. I later learned both of them adhered to a lot of the principles of Attachment Parenting (AP). They had both chosen to nurse their toddlers, so I knew it was a valid (controversial in the US, but valid) parenting choice.
- I did a lot of reading while Sammy was pretty small, mostly stuff on AP because that was what that made sense to my heart, and in that repeatedly came across the idea of child-led weaning. The more I read about it, the more natural and appealing it seemed.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that "breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired."
- The needs of a 1 year+1 day old child are really no different than the needs of a 364 day old child. So why should I automatically stop nursing a baby just because he/she has reached some milestone on a calendar?
- The World Health Organization recommends that after 6 months of age "infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond."
- When Sammy was almost 8 months old, I got pregnant with Katie. I was already having issues pumping enough milk to keep up with him at daycare (at that time it was a pumping problem not a supply problem) and then my milk started dwindling because of the pregnancy. I felt terribly guilty, after having decided to let him wean himself, that I might not even be able to nurse him through the first year like I had originally planned before I knew anything about gentle parenting. That guilt carried over for a long time, and was a big influencing factor in deciding to tandem nurse.
- Shortly after I got pregnant with Katie, I read Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hilary Flower, to educate myself as much as possible about nursing a baby/toddler during pregnancy and beyond, to try to figure out if this was something I wanted to pursue or not. I was really touched by all the stories, greatly comforted to know that LOTS of people have gone through what I was about to, and armed with new knowledge I re-made the decision to let Sammy wean himself when he was ready.
- I wondered what God actually had in mind when he designed humans? How did people 100, 200, 1000 years ago feed their babies and toddlers? They certainly didn't feed them formula as infants and/or wean them in the first or second year.
- In many other cultures, breastfeeding toddlers and preschoolers is perfectly normal, and weaning children before they are ready is considered weird.
- According to Anthropologist Kathy Dettwyler, cultural influences aside, human offspring are designed to nurse between 2.5 and 7 years, and...
- ..."in societies where children are allowed to nurse 'as long as they want' they usually self-wean, with no arguments or emotional trauma, between 3 and 4 years of age."
- We did not have to deal with any sibling rivalry or the usual feeling-neglected toddler behavior when Katie was born.
- He gets immunities from it. (Did you know children's immune systems don't develop fully until they're about 6?)
- Who knows what other allergies I may have protected him from by nursing him. (And eggs, milk, and peanuts are certainly enough for me!)
- It has to be better for him than any of the alternative (non-human) milks that are out there. (He does drink rice milk, but not in the quantities that he would if he were not nursing.) And certainly is much better for him than any of the non-milks he could be drinking (juice, soda, kool-aid, ...)
- It's statistically better for his IQ and eventual emotional maturity
- It helps him calm down REALLY fast when he is upset or hurt (like after his prick test at the allergist)
- It makes him happy and helps him feel secure
- Sometimes when Katie is upset she nurses better if her brother is there nursing with her
Near the end of our Bradley Method birth class, our class discussed nursing. I was determined to nurse for 1 year (AAP recommendation) and then wean because "anything beyond that is just weird." Another classmate didn't even really want to nurse, but was going to do it for a little while because of financial issues. Boy did we both change our minds when we met our kids and got to know them! Mine is (obviously) still nursing. That classmate and I remained friends after the class, and she was SUPER sad when her son weaned himself ~18m!
There have been times I've been very tempted, and a few times where I actually decided (for a day or so) to change my mind about child-led weaning, but they're usually PMS related, so I end up making myself stick to my original decision. It is not convenient or comfortable to nurse a toddler, especially one with bad teeth, but I believe it is best for him, so I continue to do it.