Congratulations! You’ve breastfed your baby for a year now woohoo! Honestly, you deserve all the trophies, a day in your honor, and an Oscar. So… what’s next?
Should I breastfeed my baby after 1 year?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and continue breastfeeding while introducing solid foods for 1 year or longer. The World Health Organization also recommends 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding with continued breastfeeding complemented by appropriate foods up to 2 years or longer. After that, you should breastfeed your baby for as long as you and your baby wish to continue. Ultimately, the decision is yours and there is no wrong answer. The Mayo Clinic advises that you should “trust your instincts” and enjoy this special time to continue nurturing your child. Also do not feel guilty for stopping. ever. Breastfeeding takes an extraordinary amount of time and energy and you have done an incredible job. If you decide to stop, awesome!
What are the benefits of breastfeeding after infancy?
By now, you probably have learned that breast milk is considered the gold standard for infant nutrition. It contains everything your baby needs, all the balanced nutrients, cells, hormones, and immunity booster like antibodies during the first 6 months of life. But what parents aren’t always aware of is that breast milk and continuing breastfeeding have benefits well beyond infancy.
According to the World Health Organization, breast milk can provide half or more of the energy and nutritional needs for children between 6 and 12 months of age, and one third of the energy and nutritional needs between 12 and 24 months. Research cited by the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers have also shown that breast milk remains rich in minerals, vitamins, and fats through toddlerhood, while the immune components like antibodies actually increase as the baby grows older. Babies who are breastfed beyond infancy have lower risk of obesity, type II diabetes, acute otitis media, and may benefit psychologically from the additional comfort of these bonding moments. Research recommended by the World Health Organization have also indicated that children who were breastfed longer have reduced risk of being overweight, higher performance on intelligence tests, and higher school attendance. For moms, continuing breastfeeding has proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, and type II diabetes. In addition, many moms use breastfeeding as a parenting tool to soothe their toddlers, promote sleep, and help their “fussy eaters” develop better eating habits.
We at SimpliFed believe that…
Do what feels right to you and your baby. It is often the easiest and most natural to start weaning when your baby initiates the process, which could be sooner or later than you expected. Some babies will gradually transition from breast milk to a small amount of solid foods at around age 6 month, while others may not initiate the process until their toddler years. Kathy Murphy, one of our lactation experts, has seen all kinds of situations in her almost 10 years of practice as an International Board Certified lactation consultant and physician assistant. Breastfeeding can be going well from the start, or it may have been a struggle at first, but then the baby and the mother start adjusting and make an active choice to go past 1 year. Kathy advises (and we at SimpliFed believes) that as with any parenting decision, if you feel you are making the best choice for your family and child, feed on and be confident in your decision!
- “Breastfeeding.” American Academy of Pediatrics, 2020, www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Breastfeeding/Pages/default.aspx
- “Infant and Young Child Feeding.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 1 Apr. 2020, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/infant-and-young-child-feeding
- “Breast-Feeding beyond Infancy: What You Need to Know.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Apr. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/extended-breastfeeding/art-20046962
- “Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy a GP Guide.” ABM, 16 Dec. 2019, abm.me.uk/breastfeeding-information/breastfeeding-beyond-infancy-a-gp-guide/
- “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 May 2020, www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/faq/index.htm
- “Weaning.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 Jan. 2020, www.cdc.gov/nutrition/InfantandToddlerNutrition/breastfeeding/weaning.html