My 7 year old son recently told me that he and his mother (we've been separated for a few months) check to see if she is still producing milk every now and then. In an effort not to sound alarmed I asked the results of the test, and he said that yes, she does, but that the milk tastes different.

I knew that in the past she let him grab her breast and nipples "for comfort" far longer that I would have thought healthy, but she insisted that it was good for him. But I thought that had stopped a couple of years ago.

EDIT: I think this is far too old for her to be letting him touch/lick/hold her breasts even if he currently may want to do so. I am very concerned that one day soon he will mention this behavior to one of his friends thinking it is normal, only to find out that it is "creepy" or "immature" or whatever. I would also assume that at a certain age it crosses into "illegal" territory from a sexual abuse standpoint, though I couldn't begin to guess at what age that would be.

How old is too old?

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    – Stephie
    Jan 28, 2020 at 18:20
  • As far as I understand the laws of most democratic countries, the key to declaring an act as sexual abuse or sexual harassment mainly depends on the "intention" behind that act. From the details of your question, the intention behind your ex-spouse letting your child touch her nipples doesn't seem to be sexual. So it may not be considered as sexual abuse or sexual harassment by law.
    – Somanna
    Jan 29, 2020 at 14:10
  • By the way, I think it would be appropriate for you to straight-away tell your ex-spouse that your child is too old for touching or soothing her breasts even if she is his mother. And hear what she replies.
    – Somanna
    Jan 29, 2020 at 14:16
  • 1
    I'm not as concerned with the illegality of it as I am of the effect it could have on our son down the line. I have told her many, many times that I think he is far too old for that kind of behavior, but am derided for being uptight. I have drafted a note more formally outlining my objections and the reasons behind them.
    – Worried
    Jan 29, 2020 at 14:27
  • Have you asked your son if he desires this kind of contact? If he has moved past it, but mother is insisting, it will be easier for you to argue that it should stop.
    – swbarnes2
    Jan 31 at 19:07

2 Answers 2


I think the exact age of how old is too old is very cultural dependent. My common sense answer would be as long as the mother produces milk and it's a (significant) part of the kids diet you could argue benefit. These numbers based on WHO data suggest that breast feeding for 3 years would well be in the 'acceptable' range

At age 6+ just testing if your ex-spouse produces enough milk would suggest there is no dietary benefit from continuing though.

Being a side in a ugly divorce myself i would be very careful how you approach this topic though. For it to be "illegal" often a certain intent would be involved and to accuse a ex-spouse of this kind of behavior makes things very messy (like why didn't you notice this last year, do you have proof, etc). If there is a neutral party that both of you trust you could see if you can raise this issue there. But be very explicit of your intent of the discussion ("she is abusing my child", is a different discussion from "i want to be part of raising my child, and i think a balanced diet without breast milk would be wise")

  • 1
    Before the separation I expressed concern about the behavior, but was told I was just being too uptight. In therapy I was discussing and incident of unacceptable behavior exhibited by my son, and the subject of his soothing on his mother's breasts came up. The therapist was taken aback and said that she felt she might be obligated to report the event. I did not want that to happen, so she said she would be more comfortable with the situation if I sought assurances from my ex-partner that the behavior (as well as the two of them bathing together) would stop. No intention of accusing illegality.
    – Worried
    Jan 29, 2020 at 12:13
  • 1
    It all depends if you can still talk to your ex-wife/know someone who SHE trusts you can talk to. Maybe even a note to your ex-mother-in-law (for example) saying "i'm not going to pursue this, i can't talk to her directly, but other people are starting to ask questions, can you talk to her". Maybe that will be enough so (in 3 months from now) it just stopped without anyone saying something directly to you. However exact communication in combination with the complications of a divorce makes this very hard to judge over an internet forum. In a large part it depends on how and why you separated.
    – Batavia
    Jan 31, 2020 at 12:26

3 to 4 years maximum is good for a baby to be feed by her mother breast. You should transfer the process of breastfeeding to bottle milk gradually in this period. In this age the baby can't remember the breastfeeding activities. After this age if you allow breastfeeding, then it can be difficult for a baby to forget those activities.

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