If you've ever watched that Adam Sandler film called Grown Ups, then that's too long.
Naturally it stop when the next baby come by. That would be about 2 years on average.
The most critical part (for the benefit of natural immunity) would be the first 6 months.
It's what is best for the mom and child.
I was hospitalized when my son was 6 months old, and couldn't get the milk back after that - I was very sad to have to stop early. Of my two children, he is more prone to allergies.
About 12 months is recommended, but it's difficult to wean a child at that time if they are used to the mother/child time. There are benefits to this that go beyond nourishment.
After this point, I think the child naturally detaches a bit by 18 months, still wanting to be close with the mother, but also more interesting in the world beyond her lap - this is a pretty good time to wean.
But to your question about how long is TOO long - I generally respect any mother to make this decision for herself. It does get harder to wean after the child no longer needs the breast-milk, but will breast feed for comfort or habit.
Most often the decision is made when breast-feeding becomes inconvenient - the child can 'ask' for it in public, or won't go to sleep without it (which can affect the mom's 'time' to herself at the end of the day, etc), or a sibling is born.
When the kid can ask for it.....then it's time to stop! I stopped when my daughter started getting teeth, but I continued to pump and gave it to her in a cup until she was two. My daughter was a premie, so I had to supplement with a special formula. I also didn't produce enough, and since I worked full-time, it was hard to find time to pump at work too. Do it as long as it works for you and your little one!
I would say the cut off is 1 year but I also wonder why it would persist past teething. Ouch. Admittedly I breast fed for a very short time, about 6 weeks. This was due to some complications with medication that I was prescribed.
I have had the less than delightful experience of seeing a child of 3 verbally request the boob. Not a good thing.
When they can pull a stool up to you while you are on the phone, adjust your clothes and help themselves. That is when my friend finally decided he was too old. He was 4. I think that is too old also. Mine were on cups of milk by 1 1/2. They do not really need the breast milk after they are eating and drinking like grown people. They can get the proper nutrition from regular food and they can still cuddle with mom.
They can be taught not to bite when they teethe by tapping them on the cheek and stopping when they bite. They will learn not to bite. Biting was never an issue with mine more than once.
I don't think there is any "right" answer to this question. In many other cultures throughout the world, it is considered perfectly normal to breastfeed well into toddlerhood. Stopping early or assigning some sort of value judgement on nursing beyond the first few months is unusual outside of our very prudish American culture. It's good for mom and child, so as long as they are both happy with the situation and want to continue, I say go for it!
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