'As good as chocolate' and 'better than ice cream': how toddler, and older, breastfeeders experience breastfeeding

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The breastfeeding experiences of 114 Australian children who were currently breastfeeding were explored via maternal observation and direct questioning of the children. Mothers commonly stated that their child breastfed for comfort and this opinion was validated by observations of when the children breastfed, which was often in the transition to sleep or when the child was upset. Children stated that they liked breastfeeding and that they felt happy, good or nice when they breastfed. Children expressed that they liked the taste of breastmilk and compared the flavour to a wide variety of foods. Conversations with the children revealed that they had learnt significant information about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding role-play was often involved in this learning and it is proposed that this learning should be valued. This study is the first examination of breastfeeding from the viewpoint of children, who are the actual breastfeeders, and provides insight into their practices and motivations.

Keywords: bottle feeding; culture; learning; long-term breastfeeding; role-play; thumb-sucking

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03004430701764176

Affiliations: School of Nursing, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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