Mum still breastfeeds daughter aged SIX and won't stop until she asks

As proud mum Denise Sumpter cuddles her bright, talented and confident daughter it is clear they have a special bond.

At six-and-a-half years old, Belle is still breastfeeding – the oldest child in the UK known to be taking her mother’s milk.

The Year Two pupil will ask for a feed if she is tired, ill or simply wants some bonding time with her mum.

She might ask a couple of times a day, or maybe just once or twice a week.
Denise Sumpter with her children Belle, six, and 18-month-old Beau. Denise is an attachment parent who still breastfeeds both her children.
Rosie Hallam/Platform Press
Sometimes she feeds on her own, and other times she latches on alongside 18-month-old brother Beau.

And Denise, 44, insists she will continue until Belle decides it is time to stop.

“I’ll feed Belle as long as she asks,” she says. “I don’t know how long that will be. It will be the same with Beau. I don’t think there’s anything weird about it.
“I feed both children on demand – ­whenever they want it.”

Belle is a head taller than most of her classmates and has rarely been ill.

Her mother puts this down to her “mama’s milk”, and for the confidence of her clever daughter – a talented violinist, singer and dancer who is top of the class in most subjects.

Denise, a PhD student of ancient science, says: “I have two healthy, bright, confident children who I truly believe have benefitted from breast milk, and continue to do so.”
Denise has the backing of partner Jules Deering, 47, a technical director at a university drama department.

“Breastfeeding hasn’t impacted my sex life in any way,” she says. “It hasn’t ruined my breasts.”

In fact she credits it with helping her keep her figure and her health, saying: “I’m protected from various cancers and can eat what I want without gaining weight.”
Calming influence: Denise says breastfeeding makes her children less hyper active
But she insists that the benefits it gives to her children are her driving force. “Mums who feed for longer are often accused of being selfish,” she says.

“There are things I get out of it – like calm, happy children. But I can say with certainty I’ve done this entirely for the benefit of my kids.

“When Belle finishes I’ll be sad but it’s a natural progression. Her milk teeth are going and I get the impression she won’t be feeding for much longer. But she can take her time.”
On demand: Belle gets fed when she asks for it
Denise admits her choice has raised eyebrows, saying: “I used to get the odd comment from relatives who’d say ‘here we go with the milk thing again’. But I think because people know I’m confident in my decision they let me get on with it.”

However, Belle no longer feeds from her mother in public. “I will sometimes tell Belle no. She hasn’t asked to be fed publicly since she was about four or five. Luckily, I haven’t had many negative responses.”

The mum of two had never planned to continue breastfeeding for so long.

When Belle was a newborn Denise expected to feed her for six months to a year at the most – but when the time came she began to change her mind.

Denise Sumpter with her children Belle, six, and 18-month-old Beau. Denise is an attachment parent who still breastfeeds both her children. Rosie Hallam/Platform Press
“I heard women talking about tricking their babies to stop breastfeeding, or simply taking it away,” she says. “Belle seemed so tiny and she really needed her milk.”

Once she started to look into the subject she discovered baby-led weaning. “It became clear that the norms in this country aren’t necessarily correct or what is best for children,” she says.

“The World Health Organisation ­recommends breastfeeding up to two years and beyond. I decided to let nature play its course.”

Denise, from Islington. North London, found help and advice through groups such as breastfeeding support organisation La Leche League. “Having a strong support network is really important,” she says.

“I try to help parents with the information I have as it saves lives, empowers women and makes children happy.

“When mums are told to cover up while breastfeeding in Claridge’s or ignorant politicians like UKIP leader Nigel Farage tell nursing mums to ‘sit in the corner’, it only does harm. What we need is more openness and more truth so mums can make informed decisions.”

She adds: “There are so many myths about breastfeeding it’s unreal. Read more here

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