A woman named Emma took to social media earlier this month to share that she was weaning her 2-year-old son off breastfeeding. She intended for the post to be lighthearted; however, it struck a nerve with dozens of commenters who said the toddler should’ve been weaned “over a year ago.”
Rather than bend to the pressure, Emma addressed her critics in a TikTok video, writing: “[It’s] 2022. Let’s educate ourselves & NORMALIZE natural term breastfeeding!!!” It has amassed over 200,000 views and more than 1,800 comments. You can watch the full video here.
Emma’s video opens with a screen recording of some negative comments she received on her first post. Per the recording, some viewers called Emma “sick” and “ridiculous” and said she “waited too long” to wean her son. After a few moments, Emma appeared on screen to respond to all the “hate.”
“I cannot believe the hate I have woken up to this morning,” she said. “Two is the minimum age the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding until. In fact, in some cultures, [children] will breastfeed until they’re 7.”
Emma then said that some commenters called her “disgusting” for breastfeeding her son and told her she had “serious issues.” But she disagreed.
“If you have issues with that [first post] and you are sexualizing the relationship between a mother and a 2-year-old child, I’m not the one with the issues,” she concluded.
An Expert’s Opinion
Claire Lerner, LCSW, the director of parenting resources at Zero to Three, told Newsweek that Emma is correct in that there is nothing wrong with a mother breastfeeding her 2-year-old.
“It’s totally fine to nurse a 2-year-old,” Lerner said. “As [Emma] said, the WHO recommends it—breast milk is healthy for kids. [And] in other countries, it is not only accepted but valued to nurse kids into toddlerhood.”
Based on her over 30 years of experience working with children and families, Lerner theorized that the aversion to breastfeeding “beyond infancy” boils down to two things. The first is that breastfeeding has become “sexualized,” she said.
“In other countries, [breastfeeding] is not about sexuality—it’s about connection [and] health,” Lerner said. “Here, it’s seen as inappropriate because somehow there’s a sexual nature to it.”
Lerner also believed that in the U.S. specifically—where independence is “valued”—some people are “triggered” by breastfeeding because they associate it with dependence.
“I think what many people are thinking is, ‘That child should be using a cup and be an independent feeder, and that mom is breeding dependency, and dependency is bad,’” she said. “But breast milk is not harmful to a 2-year-old.”
Many viewers applauded Emma’s now-viral response and shared that they, too, breastfed until ages 2 and beyond.
“My daughter is almost two, and we [are] still breastfeeding,” mara.psy said. “I know how much it means for her physical and mental health. You’re doing great, mama.”
“[I] breastfed each of my children until they were almost three,” Jessica Edwards-Bens wrote. “You’re doing great!”
Addedbonus commented: “You’re doing a great job. Keep spreading the correct message!”
Newsweek reached out to Emma for comment.
More Viral Posts
Commenters praised a mom-to-be for not inviting her unborn child’s father to an ultrasound.
One man went viral for publicly questioning a mother’s decision to leave her toddler in the car while she shopped.
And Redditors supported a mom who involved herself in a conflict between her daughter and her adult son’s girlfriend.
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