How Long Should You Breastfeed Your Child?

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How long you decide to breastfeed is up to you. Experts have their recommendations, others have their opinions, but only you, along with your doctor and partner, can make decisions about what’s right for your family. Some women choose to breastfeed for just a few weeks, others breastfeed for years, and most women do something in between.

There will always be people thinking that you breastfeed for too long or too short for a period of time. However, there is no right or wrong way and no one should judge you for how long you decide to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding recommendations

Health professionals around the world agree quite a bit on the timing of breastfeeding guidelines. Here are some top expert recommendations:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): It is recommended that infants be exclusively breastfed for 6 months, then breastfed in addition to starting solid foods for at least a year.After that, you can continue to breastfeed for as long as you and your baby want.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): It is recommended to breastfeed infants alone for the first 6 months then continue breastfeeding with complementary foods for the first year. After the first year, breastfeeding should be continued for as long as the mother and baby want.
  • World Health Organization (WHO): It is recommended to breastfeed infants exclusively or exclusively for the first 6 months and then continue breastfeeding with complementary foods for 2 years or longer.

Breastfeeding Terms

These are some of the terms you will come across when reading about breastfeeding.

Exclusive breastfeeding

Exclusive breastfeeding is exclusive breastfeeding. This means that the baby’s only nutrition comes from breastfeeding. An exclusively breastfed baby is not getting anything extra to eat or drink such as formula, water, juice or baby food. If you can and choose to do so, exclusive breastfeeding is preferred by experts as the primary source of nutrition for the first 4 to 6 months of a baby’s life.

Combined feeding

When you want to breastfeed, but you can’t or decide you can’t do it at all, you can choose to combine breastfeeding with formula feeding. There are many reasons why exclusive breastfeeding may not work for your family. If you must return to work or school immediately, you may not be available to breastfeed every 2 to 3 hours.

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Or, if you have underdeveloped breasts or you’ve had previous breast surgery, you may not be able to make enough breast milk to meet your baby’s growing needs. Combination or partial breastfeeding allows you to continue to breastfeed while providing complementary nutrition to your baby to make sure he’s getting everything he needs.

Breastfeeding and Supplements

After exclusive breastfeeding for the first 4 to 6 months, experts recommend continued breastfeeding with the addition of complementary foods. Complementary foods are foods other than breast milk. They are not intended to replace breastfeeding but provide additional nutrition beyond breastfeeding.

The introduction of complementary foods begins when you introduce your baby to their first solid foods between 4 and 6 months of age. Your child’s doctor will advise you when and how to start solids supplements. Foods like fruit and vegetable purees, baby cereals, and age-appropriate nutritious snacks are often tried first.

Breastfeeding is still encouraged and beneficial for your baby at this age, but as your baby gets older, breast milk alone will no longer be enough to give him all the nutrients his body needs. when children grow up.

How long should you breastfeed?

Any amount of breast milk or breast milk that you can give your baby is beneficial. Even a small amount of colostrum, the first breast milk, is valuable to your baby. First breast milk is more than just nutrition. It also contains antibodies and other immunological properties.

So even if you only choose to breastfeed a little at first, that early breast milk can help protect your newborn from illnesses like diarrhea, ear infections, and respiratory infections.

If you continue to breastfeed your baby in the infancy period, the benefits are even greater. Breastfeeding can reduce your baby’s risk of developing asthma, allergies, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It may also reduce the risk of ovarian and breast cancer.

The benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby are numerous. And the longer you breastfeed, the bigger and longer they will be.

How long is too long to breastfeed?

There is no set age before breastfeeding should end. Depending on how you and your baby feel, experts agree that you should continue to breastfeed for as long as you find it right for you.Provided you start adding complementary foods to your baby’s diet as he or she grows, breastfeeding can continue for 2 years, 3 years or even longer.

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Breast milk still provides additional nutrition for older children to have a complete, healthy diet. It also continues to provide antibodies and immune properties that help older children fight infections, diseases, and illnesses. Breastfeeding will continue to benefit no matter how long you breastfeed. So it’s ultimately up to you to determine how long it takes for your child to grow up.

Psychological impact of breastfeeding on older children

Some mothers worry that breastfeeding can cause psychological damage, but there is no reason to believe that breastfeeding will cause any problems. According to the AAP, “There is no upper limit on the duration of breastfeeding, and there is no evidence of psychological or developmental harm from breastfeeding through the third year of life or longer.”

As mentioned before, the longer you breastfeed, the greater and lasting the benefits. Plus, long-term breastfeeding is actually associated with a number of positive effects. Some of the ways mothers describe their babies after breastfeeding for a longer period of time are healthy, happy, loving life, safe and independent.

Handling other people’s opinions

Others have their own opinions about how long babies should be breastfed (or whether they should be breastfed at all). You’ll find that friends, family, and even strangers may not be afraid to voice those opinions. And while you can listen to their advice, you certainly don’t have to.

You and your partner must make the best decision for your child and your family. Often, friends and family have the idea of ​​breastfeeding an older child.

Sometimes all it takes is a little information about the benefits of continuing to breastfeed or just telling them what doctors and medical professionals around the world recommend. It’s important not to let other people’s opinions interfere with your decisions. In the end, you may end up feeling worse if you do what other people think you should do instead of what you really want to do.

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Don’t let anyone feel guilty about breastfeeding longer if you’re ready to stop or make you feel you should stop breastfeeding if you want to continue.

Decide when to wean

Weaning is an important part of breastfeeding. It starts when you add another form of food to your baby’s diet. It can start with an occasional bottle at 6 weeks, or with the first spoonful of apple sauce at 6 months. You may decide to wean completely or continue breastfeeding long after your baby starts solids.

When you’re ready to stop breastfeeding, you can even continue to breastfeed. If you’re starting to plan to end breastfeeding early, you can pump and store breast milk in the freezer for use after you stop breastfeeding.

You can give your baby breast milk in a bottle or cup after you stop breastfeeding. Or, you can switch to infant formula or cow’s milk, depending on how old your baby is when you stop breastfeeding.

A very good word

Breastfeeding is a personal decision. You may only feel comfortable breastfeeding for a few weeks, or you may plan to breastfeed for 6 months then end up breastfeeding your toddler. And you know what? Whatever you do is OK. When it comes to breastfeeding, there is no right or wrong time.

So go ahead and do what’s best for you and your child. Try not to worry too much and don’t feel guilty if someone says you haven’t been breastfeeding long enough or that you’ve been breastfeeding for too long. Be confident in your choices and know that you’ve been breastfeeding for the amount of time that’s right for you, your baby, and your unique circumstances.

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