My goal when I began breastfeeding was to make it as long as I could, but ideally to one year. After a few weeks of struggling (and a healthy dose of nipple cream) I got the hang of things and continued, mostly without issue, until I reached my goal. I was delighted, and didn't have a reason to stop either. I didn't necessarily expect that extended breastfeeding would be for me, so I didn't know about the creepy things extended breastfed babies do.
OK, let's be clear: none of this is actually creepy. Breastfeeding is perfectly normal and nothing about it, including continuing to breastfeed a toddler, is weird or unsettling. But the truth of the matter is that we don't often see babies nurse beyond infancy; the latest stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that only less than a third of American women are still breastfeeding at 12 months. But you know what we do see a lot of? Sexualized breasts. So the combination of those two things can make the very act of extended breastfeeding seem odd to people.
Plus, toddlers are little weirdos. Nothing against them, but they're just strange and while it's mostly in a cute way it's still, you know, weird.
So with that in mind, here are some of the creepy-but-not-really-creepy-but-kind-of-creepy things extended breastfeeding kids will do:
Live With Their Hand Down Your Shirt
I don't think one can really tell the difference between a breastfed baby and a formula fed baby, except for when it comes to two things: the color of their poop (and only then before they start eating solids) and their propensity to stick a hand down their mama's shirt. I had a small child's hand between my breasts for the better part of 2011 to 2016. It makes sense: it's warm and cozy down there and my breasts were a steady source of comfort for my kids. But it was weird, perhaps mostly in the fact that, after a while, it wasn't weird at all for me so I'd think nothing of talking to people while my child fished around under my clothes.
Get Super Into Boobs
I must admit, things were Freudian there for a while. Even now, a little over two years after I weaned my youngest, they're both still into boobs. Just the other day my daughter came up to me, nuzzled my chest as we hugged, and said "I love your breasts."
Grope You On The Regular
This goes beyond the casual hand-down-the-shirt life that my children lived. Sometimes, frequently, it would go beyond that to full on boob-squeezes. I had to put a stop to it completely the day my son grabbed on and, in time with the clenching of his hand around my breast, let out a "honk honk."
Where does he get this stuff?
Undress You In Public
Hey, if a shirt is standing between them and the tatas, the shirt has got to go. Oh, no, don't you trouble yourself. They have better gross and fine motor skills now so they can get it. And they don't care who sees your exposed breasts, so why should you? Hey! Why are you trying to cover up? Be cool!
Make Blatant Power Plays
It didn't happen often, but there were times when one of my children would plop in my lap and start nursing when my husband and I were near each other and I swear to God they would maintain eye contact with my partner the entire time, a smirking twinkle dancing in their pupil. Like, "They're mine, old man. She's mine, and there's nothing you can do about it. Go ahead and try me because you know she will take my side."
Fight About Whether They Should Have Access
Unlike infants, older children don't generally have set intervals at which they need to breastfeed. The when and where, therefore, can be more at the discretion of mom and her comfort levels. But, being older, that child will fight you about it with their little toddler logic... which isn't so much logical as loudly whining/shouting/crying that they want it and they want it now.
All The Nipple Tweaks
Make Games Of It
I'm sorry but it's weird to have a child make games of popping on and off your breast. They do it when they're infants but there's more obvious intention about it as they get older and it can be kind of creepy in a way.
(Again: there's nothing actually creepy about it, but there is in the context of we have been trained to look at our breasts as being different from any other body part.)
Have Zero Chill
An infant doesn't have much, but they don't necessarily have the power to draw all that much attention to the fact that they're breastfeeding. Toddlers have even less chill and are more able to make a thing of it.
Get Possessive About Your Breasts
Despite trying to correct this presumption as soon as it was vocalized, it was hard to get it through my children's heads (I mean, not unreasonably) that they were not the sole proprietors of my body. My body was mine and they were permitted access at my largess.
They'll fight you on this... like tyrannical little creepers.
When you first start breastfeeding, you learn about the various holds that will help you and your baby reach the ultimate levels of ease, comfort, and success. No one talks about the bizarre positions older children will contort themselves into (often for no discernible reason) to breastfeed as they get older, though. My kids have nursed upside-down, over my shoulder (like draped themselves over me from behind rather than walk around to the front), and every other position you can imagine, just for fun.
Continue To Live With A Hand Down Your Shirt For Years After They're Done Breastfeeding
I imagine it's like how former smokers like to chew gum at times when they would normally have a cigarette. One simply can't be expected, after so long, to give up everything about it all at once... even if it makes you just a little bit creepy.