“I Will Keep Going Until They Want to Stop,” a Mom Who Was Criticized for Breastfeeding Her 5-Year-Old Son Explains Why This Should Be a Normal Practice
Breast milk is called “liquid gold” because of all the nutrition it brings to the infant. Lauren McLeod, a 29-year-old mom from Australia, believes in the health benefits of breastfeeding and is actually still doing this with her 5-year-old child. However, she was criticized by people who find it unacceptable to breastfeed older kids. But McLeod defends her actions and explains why society needs to remove this negative stigma.
Lauren McLeod is a mom of 2 and works as a doula.
McLeod became a first-time mom to Bowie in 2017. Then she gave birth to her second child, Tigerlily, in 2020. She has been breastfeeding both of her kids since they were born. In one video, she shared, “I’ve never considered bottle feeding. Not because I have anything against it, I don’t. This was just working for us, and it was just easy.”
McLeod also works as a doula, which is a trained professional who provides expert guidance and support to people who are experiencing childbirth, miscarriages, and other reproductive-related health events.
She believes that breastmilk is an immunity booster and wouldn’t hesitate to share her “liquid gold” with those in need — like, for example, her friend’s newborn child. “It was a little strange feeding a baby who wasn’t mine, but not in a bad way. It felt so natural, and it was really nice to help my friend as he was only 8 months old,” she said.
“I never imagined that I would still be breastfeeding him at 5, but here we are.”
Both McLeod and her husband, Anders McLeod, were breastfed by their moms until they were about 2 years old, and this was Lauren McLeod’s original plan with her kids. “We thought he [Bowie] would self-wean by that point, but 2 (years old) came and went. He is now 5 and breastfeeds only at bedtime and a few times a week.”
When Tigerlily came into their lives, McLeod started setting boundaries with Bowie and tried to feed him less. At one point, she said that she felt overwhelmed by being touched too much.
“There have absolutely been moments with the kids being older, where I just thought, ’I just can’t. I can’t do this anymore. I need to stop,’” McLeod shared. Like any mom, she has her bad days, but she clarified that she’s generally happy with their journey. She is also willing to ride it out until the time for change comes.
Some people online don’t approve of her method and describe what she’s doing as “gross.”
While no one has directly said anything negative to her, face-to-face, McLeod has received a lot of criticism online for breastfeeding her preschooler. “It’s not weird... it’s completely normal, and I will keep going until they want to stop,” she answered. She added that they do give Bowie proper food, along with milk.
McLeod said she feels a bit sad just thinking about the end of it because breastfeeding has been a huge part of their lives. “I believe we’re doing the right thing for us. It’s a beautiful thing for us to bond and reconnect after a long day.” Also, McLeod believes that her son will stop breastfeeding by the time he’s 6.
Experts say breastfeeding can be done up to 2 years and beyond.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breastfeeding is one of the best ways to ensure a child’s health and survival. Institutions recommend breastfeeding from the first hour of birth, and ideally, within the first 6 months.
Infants should also be breastfed as often as they demand it. With regard to the age limit, the WHO website indicates that breastfeeding can be continued even past the initial 2 years.
McLeod is sharing their family’s journey on social media to help normalize breastfeeding beyond infancy.
Lauren said most of the messages she receives are actually supportive. A lot of people also ask her about her experience with tandem feeding and the logistics of it.
“A lot of the negative opinions people have about breastfeeding are often based on cultural bias and lack of education on the topic, which is part of the reason I share my story — to help people understand that natural term breastfeeding is biologically normal.”
She also wants to reach out to other parents who are going through a similar journey. “Everything they’re doing is perfectly normal and natural. It’s just a lot of this modern, Western society that has placed a stigma around it.”
What are your thoughts about Lauren McLeod’s journey? Do you believe there’s an appropriate age for children to be breastfed?