I never planned to breastfeed a toddler, and now I do all the time

I don't know how it is in other countries and cultures, but breastfeeding brings out a lot of emotions in this country, mainly of discomfort. The idea that breasts, the symbol of female sexuality, should provide the ultimate nourishment to babies, the symbol of innocence, just seems, so, well, unnatural. Before I had children, I thought I was OK with nursing babies, but the idea of a toddler nursing was, if not obscene, at least weird — a kid being able to ask to nurse! I vowed to be discreet, not to make anyone else uncomfortable. I still remember my cousin feeding her baby during a wedding reception when I was a kid. While she was talking to my father! I wouldn't do that in front of any of my uncles.

I am breastfeeding a two-year-old and it's not gross (I promise)

The other day I was hanging out with my friend and her four-year-old daughter. My son, the aforementioned two-year-old, at some point asked to breastfeed. I'm trying to cut down on nursing him in public, but he'd just spent his first night away from me, so I figured I could make an exception. I helped him up onto my lap, pulled down my shirt, and let my kid do his thing.

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How can I gently wean my breastfeeding toddler?

My son will be three years old in March and is still breastfeeding. He is VERY persistent, and I'm having trouble weaning him. The advice from family and friends (who think I should have cut him off a long time ago) and from the pediatrician is to make him quit cold turkey. I fear that he might perceive it as abandonment if I forced him to suddenly stop something he loves so much, but I have no other ideas about what to do.