How long should one breastfeed their child?

Melody - posted on 03/05/2011 ( 101 moms have responded )

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I was wondering what you guy's thought on this matter. I personally planned to breastfeed for one year, my son is 7 months now. Then, yesterday when I was at the doctor for myself, she asked why I was still breastfeeding. She said after 3 months the nutritional value is basically gone and it is mostly water. Now, I have never heard that before. I always heard 6 months would be great, and a year ideal. So I was wondering what you guys have heard on this subject?

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To put it nicely.... that doctor is crazy and very uninformed. Breastmilk never turns to water and will have nutritional value for as long as your child continues to have it.

I weaned my twin girls at 15 months. My son will be 3 on the 27th of this month and is still nursing.

[deleted account]

Water?! Man, there are some seriously ignorant doctors out there, scary really. And where did she get the three months from? Either way, the benefits of breastfeeding remain as long as you are doing it, so keep it up until you or your baby don't want to anymore. I think the one year recommendation might stem from being able to avoid formula, but you certainly don't have to wean after that either. Nursing will still be good for your child.

Jennifer - posted on 03/05/2011

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yikes, find a new doctor ASAP. if breastmilk turned to water after 3 months, the human race would never have survived. breastmilk NEVER turns to water.

as far as how long to breastfeed, it is a personal decision. i consider 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding (absolutely nothing besides breastmilk) and continued breastfeeding (with complimentary solids) until one year (AAP recommendations) is the absolute bare minimum for my family. at least 2 years is ideal for us, though. the world health organization recommends at least 2 years, and beyond that as long as mutually desired.

Merry - posted on 03/05/2011

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How Long Should I Nurse My Baby?



Prepared by Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D.

Department of Anthropology,

Texas A&M University



 



What do pediatric nutrition experts at the national (United States) and international levels recommend concerning how long children should be breastfed?





I.     World Health Organization:  “two years of age or beyond”



        http://www.who.int/nut/documents/gs_infa...)D



Promoting appropriate feeding for infants and young children

 

10. Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production.

 

II.     American Academy of Pediatrics:  “It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired.”



http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi...)







RECOMMENDED BREASTFEEDING PRACTICES



6.  Exclusive breastfeeding is ideal nutrition and sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months after birth. Infants weaned before 12 months of age should not receive cow's milk feedings but should receive iron-fortified infant formula. Gradual introduction of iron-enriched solid foods in the second half of the first year should complement the breast milk diet. It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least 12months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired.



 

III.    American Academy of Family Physicians:  “Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired.*********** If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned.”************



http://www.aafp.org/x6633.xml

 

AAFP Policy Statement on Breastfeeding



Breastfeeding is the physiological norm for both mothers and their children.  The AAFP recommends that all babies, with rare exceptions, be breastfed and/or receive expressed human milk exclusively for about the first six months of life.  Breastfeeding should continue with the addition of complementary foods throughout the second half of the first year.  Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired.  Family physicians should have the knowledge to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding. (1989) (2001)

AAFP, Specific section on nursing the older child:



Nursing Beyond Infancy



Breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is currently not the cultural norm and requires ongoing support and encouragement.85 Breastfeeding during a subsequent pregnancy is not unusual. If the pregnancy is normal and the mother is healthy, breastfeeding during pregnancy is the woman's personal decision. If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned. Breastfeeding the nursing child after delivery of the next child (tandem nursing) may help to provide a smooth transition psychologically for the older child.6



IV.   Kathy Dettwyler’s Research:  My research suggests that the normal and natural duration of breastfeeding for modern humans falls between 2.5 years at a minimum and about 7 years at a maximum.

Merry - posted on 03/06/2011

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And as your son becomes a toddler it gets really fun too! Eric tries to tickle me while bf, or he points out my face body parts, or plays with my hair, and sometimes when he's done he says 'yummy' or he will stroke my chest or pat the other breast gently, once he asked to bf and I said hold on a minute and he said again 'please mommy!' melted my heart! It's like if you breastfeed long enough your child starts to show their appreciation more and more and the rewards are so wonderful!

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Laura - posted on 07/10/2012

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hi MELODY! This is Dr. Laura Mornings ND.,LC...see my post "moms who breastfeed older kids" that person was giving a silly joke..... the value is always the same...full value....some moms BF part time into year 3 and even 4...if the moms gets good nutrition,it is all the same...also see post...."my one tear old daughter won't drink milk" there I reply and explain severe dangers of cow milk...you can always send a PM for further advice

Kerry - posted on 03/25/2011

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i totally agree with what you said my lil man is 15 months and he is deffo not ready to stop (and if im honest neither am i) breast is best for as long as mum and baby want to continue

Charlotte - posted on 03/16/2011

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@ CJ Hiring. I tend to try and ignore peopleS negative comments as i don't like to think they have affected me but i couldn't ignore yours. The most important thing about being supportive and offering advice to another breastfeeding woman is to never even hint at an upper age and encouarge them to feel positive about their choices, but here you are, deciding when someone should stop feeding their baby, and who gave you that right? I thnk you need to get your facts right about a number of issues. I plan on feeding my daughter until she is over two and it disgusts me that you are trying to suggest i am not right for doing that. Also, its rubbish that you are giving advice about when solids should be introduced. Mine was exclusivly breast fed until she was 9 months old. she is now a year and is on the 75th percentile, walking, talking and all round doing great, so was i wrong to wait? I dont think so.

Cynthia - posted on 03/16/2011

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@CJ Hirning: You don't think it's "right" to breastfeed after the age of 2? And who made you the authority? I breastfed my daughter till almost 3 1/2 and I'm still BFing my son who is 3. There is nothing wrong with it and I strongly resent people who are so judgemental.

CJ - posted on 03/16/2011

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It's really wierd that your doctor said that. I was told that I should breastfeed as long as I could. ideally until my daughter turned 1 yr. I only made it until she was 5 1/2 months then I started drying up. (Though it didn't surprise me too much, my daughter was(and still is) a big eater and my body just couldn't keep up with her. I think as long as you stop by the time they turn 2, you are doing good. I don't think it's right to breastfeed after 2. But 7 months is definantly good. I mean if you're exclusively breastfeeding, that's different. As you should have started him on solids at 6 months at the latest. But if he's doing both, I don't see what the issue is.

Kerri - posted on 03/16/2011

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your dr is flat out wrong an dshould go back to school to study the real facts about breastmilk. Breastfeed for as long as you and Baby want. The World Health Organization reccommends at least 2 YEARS. I nursed my son for 2 and a half.

Cynthia - posted on 03/16/2011

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My mouth just dropped open when I read this! Where the heck did this Dr. go to medical school?? Not true! Babies aren't able to drink cows milk until age one so why on earth would the nutritional value of breast milk stop at 3 months? Oh this just infuriates me! It's hard enough for women to breastfeed their children sometimes without ignorant doctor's giving them false information!

Tania - posted on 03/15/2011

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I learnt that when you give a baby formula you have to start solids at 4 months, but when you give breast milk you start solids at 6 months. So that alone tells me that breast milk has everything the baby needs, at least up until 6-8 months (some babies’ only start solids little later, which is fine). And then when the baby doesn’t eat well at some stage, they tell you to breastfeed little less, or after meals (solids) so that they can get more food in (which up until a year is less important than milk), so obviously breast milk has all the nutrition and is not just water.

And if you are worried about the teeth and biting, this is what worked for me. When my son bit me at 8 months, I took him off the breast, said a firm NO, and gave him to my husband for few minutes. He cried, probably because he was hungry and he got a big fright. I took him back and continued feeding. He never did it again. (I never felt the teeth otherwise).

I fed my son until 13 months and my daughter until 18 months, and if it was true that the breast milk was only ‘water’ after 3 months, I would breastfeed because of the comforting/bonding reason. I stopped breast feeding 5 month ago and MISS IT! Good luck, and enjoy!

Terra - posted on 03/15/2011

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I can't believe your doctor told you that. It is absolutely not true. As your baby's needs change, so will the content of the breastmilk. You can breastfeed as long as you and your child want to breastfeed. Even at the age of 2 1/2, my son breastfed and it came out as milk, not water. Good luck and continue as long as you are happy and do not let anyone convince you otherwise. My son has always been big so i would always get "is he still breastfeeding?, or isnt it time you stop breastfeeding". The decision is ultimately yours and your child's.

Erica - posted on 03/15/2011

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What an idiot! Sorry that makes me angry. We found a pediatrician who told us to breastfeed as long as we both wanted to. He was the third one we went to before we were happy and comfortable.

Nicki - posted on 03/15/2011

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I have never in my life heard such non sense. Your child still gets antibodies the entire time you breastfeed. Now when you want to stop is your deal. I personally had a goal of a year, but she wasn't ready then and neither was I. I finally stopped at 22 months. She was ready and I was too. That sounds odd, but you will know when its time to stop.

Ilaria - posted on 03/14/2011

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I did it til my daughter turned 4. No regrets. would do it all again in a heartbeat. its what you are comfortable with go with your gut insticts not on other peoples advice. xoxo

Minou - posted on 03/14/2011

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I think that you should breastfeed your child as long as you and your child are happy to. There are so many benefits with extending breastfeeding (I'm still feeding my 2 year old). My daughter rarely gets ill and when she does, she recovers so much faster than other children. She also has never had a temper tantrum and asks for a breastfeed when she needs comfort (which I'm happy to comply). The WHO recommends breastfeeding for the first 2 years of life and informs that it's still beneficial for the child's immune system afterwards as well. I'm baby-led with breastfeeding and have the most wonderful relationship with my daughter. Good luck and don't feel pressure from other people, but look at the special bond and nutritional and immunity aspects that you gain from breastfeeding. Anna

Beth - posted on 03/14/2011

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My lactation nurse told me a year is the best. I breastfeed my daughter for 11 months, I was aiming for 12, but she became a biter lol

Shauna - posted on 03/14/2011

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Ladies, if anyone is not yet convinced of the wonders of breastfeeding, "A study by Yale University researchers showed that women who breastfed for two years or longer reduced their risk of breast cancer by 50 percent" (http://www.breastfeeding.com/all_about/a...). This in itself is a blessing that comes from a blessing! So now we have an excuse to not only give our babies/toddlers a health boost, but also ourselves.

[deleted account]

That is a lie. A ridiculous, outright lie. Breastmilk's content changes with the age of your child and is the perfect food for them at any age. The one year mark simply comes from the idea that that's how long they need formula. The worldwide weaning average is about 4 years. This article is wonderful from an anthropological perspective:
http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.ht...
Fire that pediatrician and find one that knows what they are talking about! Go to La Leche League and find reputable sources of information on breastfeeding and breastmilk. Here are some good ones:
www.llli.org
www.kellymom.com

Lauren - posted on 03/14/2011

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I breastfed my son for 10 months. As soon as he was 6 months everyone (mainly doctors) was asking when I was going to stop!

Brooke - posted on 03/14/2011

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That's ridiculous you should breastfeed for at least 6 months, studies show children breastfed for 6 months or longer have an iq 11 points higher than formula fed babies! If I were you I would find a doctor who believes in doing things as natural as possible. And I think a year or whenever they start walking is a good time to ween them off

Jennifer - posted on 03/14/2011

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It's nice that doctors are so misinformed. How anyone can think that breastmilk turns to "mostly water" after 3 months is beyond me. Breastmilk is the *perfect food* for human babies, which is why our bodies produce it! Sounds like this particular doctor needs to take a few lactation classes -- and personally, I'd be finding a new doctor with such terrible misinformation.

For me, I would never stop before 2 years. The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 2 years. However -- I breastfeed my children until they decide to wean. My daughter weaned at 3 yrs 7 mons. My son is only 6 mons old, so I'm sure we've got a long nursing future ahead of us.

Dea - posted on 03/14/2011

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and see...even I was wrong, it's two years as a minimum for WHO!

LLL....check it out!

Dea - posted on 03/14/2011

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you have possibly the worst doctor ever. how they still have a license to practice is unfathomable.

I believe the bare minimum is a year according to the World Health Organization, and then I think it's as long as baby and mom are happy.

I personally nursed both mine until they decided they were done, which was around 3 for both of them.

I beg of you to google La Leche League and get some real information. please. best of luck to you and yours :)

Shauna - posted on 03/13/2011

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I think it is sad that people feel it is okay to feed babies "cow's milk" for life, but yet a mother's milk, which offers her child so much nutrition and antibodies tends to be very short lived. My baby turned 2 in December and I still breastfeed her. It is only at bedtime and upon her waking sometimes, but that is only because she will choose not to eat, just so she can nurse. I feel that this is such a personal and important choice and even though a child may not "require" it for nutrition after a certain age, that bonding continues.



Breastfeeding is my quiet bonding time with my daughter. I had planned to stop breast feeding right before she turned 2, then a month after 2. The truth is, it is what is right for you and your baby. Society cannot make such an important decision. My daughter will likely be my last child and I will not let anyone tell me I need to stop. I breastfed my son until he was 18 months, but that is only because he was very rough and aggressive to the point that he was just being rude. Otherwise it would have likely been longer. Good look and just play it by your own heart. Just think, there are women breastfeeding their 5 year olds (that's a bit old for ME, but I won't judge. lol.)

Nicole - posted on 03/13/2011

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I agree, time to look for a new doctor! That could not be further from the truth! Nursing is beneficial well beyond toddlerhood. Your milk actually changes as your baby grows to meet your individual baby's needs. It has the same or more calories as whole cow milk and lots of immunity builders, too. No doctor worth his/her salt would ever say such a thing! Good luck finding a new doctor!

Jane - posted on 03/13/2011

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What kind of doctor you have that telling you that milk turns to water. My doctor is so happy everytime I'll visit her and tell her that I still breastfeeding, she only advise me to give my son Vitamin D, bec. our milk is luck for it. My girl is 4 years old now she stop when she is 1 1/2 & my son is 26 months stop when he is 20 months.

Olga - posted on 03/13/2011

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I would look for a different doctor. Honestly, I would have a hard time trusting one that is so misinformed. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding until at least 12 months. Your child would need to be transitioned to formula until the year was up anyway, since you shouldn't introduce cow's milk until then. And we all know that breastmilk is best for the child.

Kela - posted on 03/13/2011

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I don't know if someone mentioned this already but breast milk has a greater amount of calories, fat and protein than any other food per gram. Not to mention that its make up changes as your child grows so it has the correct proportions of nutrients for that particular age. My son nursed until just past his third birthday. He just told me one day that he was a 'big boy' and didn't need to nu-nu any more.

Merry - posted on 03/12/2011

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I read the immune system isn't fully developed until 6!
Two is when it is functioning on it's own, but it's not mature until 6!

Lisa - posted on 03/12/2011

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wow, your doctor needs to go back to school! Your milk has protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals (if you eat minerals baby does too), all in the proper amounts for a human baby, AND any immunities you have are passed to your baby through the milk. A baby's immune system isn't fully developed until they are two years old. I say nurse for as long as you want, the longer the better. I have nursed 3 children for two years each, and am currently nursing my 15 mo old. Not only is it about food, but it's also a source of comfort. Sometimes my bub will nurse even though he's eaten foods, just because he needs a little extra loving or maybe some fats, who knows. Either way, don't stop just because someone says you should. Stop when you and baby want to.

Karen - posted on 03/12/2011

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What a horrible piece of advice to be given by a "medical professional"! I'm still feeding my almost 1 year old and plan on stopping when both of us are ready! Don't let anyone tell you that what you are doing is wrong or not good for your baby, you are doing a great job :) If there wasn't any goodness is breastmilk then God wouldn't have made our bodies with that capability :) Just keep doing what you think is right and what you are comfortable with and you will make the right decision when the time is right for you and your child. Congrats on getting as far as you have!

Amanda - posted on 03/12/2011

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Sounds like your doctor has sadly not educated herself about breastfeeding at ALL. The nutritional value doesn't magically go away at 3 months or 6 months or a year. As long as you breastfeed your milk will tailor itself to meet your baby's needs. For example, a mother who breastfeeds a toddler produces milk with more protein than when baby was a newborn because the little one has different nutritional needs at that stage. Breast milk really is amazing stuff! Since your Doctor doesn't appear to know what she's talking about (and probably got most of her breastfeeding relalted "knowledge" from a formula company rep) I would suggest you contact your local LLL or get a good book by someone who knows what they're talking about such as Dr. Jack Newman or LLL.

Lakisha - posted on 03/12/2011

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it depends on the child and you, some people in some countries go as long as 5 years old. just do it as long as you can.

Ramona - posted on 03/12/2011

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Actually, WHO recommends EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding at least 6 months and continuing to nurse AT LEAST until age 2, if not later. AAP recommends exclusive nursing for 6 months, then at least a year, if not longer if mutually desired. The world average for weaning is 4 years old as per WHO recommendations.

Kristi - posted on 03/11/2011

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Um, to put it mildly, your pediatrician is very uninformed and obviously is clouding sound medical advice with misguided personal opinion, nevermind the fact that they are not following the advice of their own pediatric association and/or the World Health Organization, which advises mothers to breastfeed until the age of 2, or longer if they so desire. Breastmilk will provide the most perfect nutrition for your child that you can provide him with. And if she was right, wouldn't you just nurse him because water was hydrating and you loved having the close relationship with him that is socially so important for his development? :) Nurse that baby as long as you want sister!

Savona - posted on 03/11/2011

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o.O I have NEVER heard of that either >.>
Ive always heard anything after 6 months is ideal for the baby. Also that at 6 months is when you can start introducing bits of pabylum and mushy foods because thats when their digestive system is complete. Before 6 months Ive heard and read that theres holes in their digestive track and when we feed them food, little food particles get into their blood stream and thats what causes food allergies.
I breast fed my daughter for 6 months and I plan to breast feed my son for atleast 6 months, in my opinion its the best for them and I would prefer feeding myself to produce milk for my baby then to pay up to $35 for a tub of formula x.x
A year would be a fantastic amount of time to breast feed your son =) gratz on going 7 months already. Best of luck/wishes to you and your family. Take care =D

Cinda - posted on 03/11/2011

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I am completely APPAULED that ANY doctor would say such an IGNORANT thing!! The Nutritional value is NOT almost gone by 3 months. If you read material from the World Health Organization, they recommend nursing until at least 6 months & to still nurse at least through 1 year while supplementing with other foods but that the supplementary foods are just to get the baby's digestive system ready for solid foods & that the breast milk is still the main source of nutrition. My son is now 27 months & still nursing!! It's more than just a source of nutrition. Breast milk contains immune properties that your baby can't get anywhere else. It's also about the bonding & comfort-factor for your baby. At 2 1/4, my son still wants to nurse to calm himself when he's stressed or upset. It still immediately calms him, almost like a drug!
So I say, IGNORE your doctor on this & nurse as long as YOU WANT TO. There's PLENTY of credible research out there to support a position of the benefits of nursing longer if you feel the need to justify it to anyone.
Good luck & happy nursing!

Lydia - posted on 03/11/2011

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according to the world health organization it is recommended to breastfeed for 2 years (or longer if desired). according to their studies and recommendation on introducing solids, breastfeeding for an 18-24 month old still covers about 20% of his nutritional intake avarage.
what your doctor said is simply a lie. why would the nutritional value suddenly go away... that is just stupid to say something like this. he is probably bribed by formula companies to get his patients use formula...

HNNIE - posted on 03/10/2011

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my doctor told me to breastfeed my child for 1 year. my son is 4 months old. now i have started giving him food too along with breastmilk.
breastmilk is good for the immune system for the child.do not stop breastfeeding at least for a year.

Amy - posted on 03/10/2011

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I thought I would breastfeed for a year, but when that time came I didn't want to stop and neither did my son.
It is an amazing and special thing for both me and my son and it gets better and better.
My son's pediatrician is great but doesn't really think it's necessary to breastfeed for more than a year,
but I agree with what the AAP and WHO have to say about it:

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire.
World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

I think it's good for my health (emotional, physical and mental) and definitely good for my son's emotional and physical health.
You should stop breastfeeding when you feel that it's right for you and your baby. You do what's right for you.

Michelle - posted on 03/10/2011

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I am at 2 years and still going ... I am trying to stop though since I am pregnant again ... It's still very nutritional for your baby! They don't know what they are talking about

Nikita - posted on 03/10/2011

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never heard of it i breast feed my daughter till she was 10mths cuz she was starting to get teeth n starting to bite IT HURTS WHEN THEY BITE

Kerry - posted on 03/10/2011

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my baby is 14 months old and im still breastfeeding him a lot when i asked my doc if it was ok to still being feeding him she said that it is still the best thing fo him and as long as baby and me were happy and baby was putting on weight it was fine, which was good as he hates bottles and dummies and has only over the past few months started eaten proper food. i am 30 and a mother of 3 my advice would be to do it for as long as you feel comfortable doing it. hope this helps kerry x x

Mary - posted on 03/10/2011

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2 years minimum is my ideal since its what the World Health Organization lists as their minimum.

Misty - posted on 03/09/2011

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Doctors are given little to no education on breastfeeding. What she told you is absolutely untrue. Your child actually gives your body signals as you breastfeed, to change breast milk nutritionally as the months go by, to support his immune system and nutritional needs. You can breast feed your child into toddler-hood and he will STILL benefit from it! Breastfeed him, and do it often - as many months or years as you are comfortable with it. Let your doctor know that you are empowered and educated and tell her to never bring it up again. Your son will thank you by being healthy and well-adjusted.

Michelle - posted on 03/09/2011

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i would change to a pro breastfeeding doctor i cant stand advive from someone who has no clue what they are talking about

Lindsey - posted on 03/09/2011

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http://www.breastfeeding.com/reading_roo...
I am currently going on 11 months breastfeeding my daughter, but you should read that article. There are plenty of benefits to continue. I don't think that it becomes primarily water, just that the infant needs more to suffice growth. My girl is growing and meeting her milestones just fine and is ahead. She also eats other foods as well. I think you should go as long as both you and the child are comfortable with it.

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