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What Happened When I Breastfed My 4-Year-Old on a Plane

Let's normalize the normal together. One feed at a time.
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Woman Looking Through Window While Traveling In Airplane
Woman Looking Through Window While Traveling In Airplane

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to spend a week at the beach with my husband and daughter.

The bags were packed, our usual last-minute dash to the airport was complete and we were settling into our plane seats with a mixture of relief and excitement in our bellies.

My daughter is now 4... and yes, she still breastfeeds.

So I wasn't exactly surprised when she asked me, halfway through the flight, "Mama, can I have some milk please?"

We've all heard the horror stories, haven't we? About the moms shamed for nursing on a crowded plane. We've all read the sensationalistic news stories, no? About toddlers scolded for having their most basic of needs met.

These stories are wrapped in discomfort... the discomfort of the guy cradling his cow's-milk latte from across the aisle... the discomfort of baby, whose feed has been rushed, hushed and kept under wraps (literally)... the discomfort of Mom, whose face is flushed from having to defend her right to nourish her child.

Yet even with this context, I didn't sense any discomfort from my fellow passengers when I lifted my top to feed my daughter. One person smiled, actually, but most didn't stop to notice.

Nor did my daughter feel any discomfort -- quite the opposite, in fact, as she found comfort on a boring flight in unfamiliar surroundings.

But for me, my goodness there was discomfort. Intense, awkward, unapologetic discomfort... although not in the way you might expect.

You see, plane seats are only so big. And 4-year-olds aren't exactly small. So to wedge us both into one seat... at just the right angle to allow her to latch... well, let's just say I earned my Gymnurstics Gold Star on that early winter morning.


Because gone are the days when I feel uncomfortable about nursing my daughter in public... yes, even though she happens to be 4.

Breastfeeding is normal. There are no buts after that statement. It really is that simple.

Whether a nursling is 4 hours old, or 4 years old... both are normal and appropriate ages for a child to breastfeed.

Isn't it about time that breastfeeding lost its shock factor? Isn't it about time that this norm was understood and accepted?

Because (sing it with me...!) we have to actually see something -- regularly and in multiple contexts and forms -- in order to view it as normal.

Let's normalize the normal together. One feed at a time.

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This post originally appeared on Mama Bean Parenting.

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