How long to breastfeed?

Chelsea - posted on 03/29/2012 ( 12 moms have responded )

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My baby is 11 months old now and I have been debating about whether I should continue to breastfeed after she turns one. I am wondering what the benefits are, and if I did decide to quit breastfeeding when she's one if she will still get enough from other foods and cows milk?

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Emily - posted on 04/01/2012

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Ultimately, it's your decision, but your baby does not have a concept of what a year means or that "one year" has been designated in some cultures as the end of breastfeeding. All your baby knows is that she's always nursed. From her perspective, she will continue to expect to nurse past her first birthday, as that's what human mammals typically do, when cultural ideas are not in the mix.



There are heaps of benefits of nursing past a year. Your milk will continue to develop to meet your baby's specific needs as she gets older. Her immune system is still immature and she will continue to benefit from your antibodies and protection against new illness. Research shows that the longer children breastfeed, the longer the health and emotional benefits go (both short-term as well as long-term). She'll continue to have that special bond with you as long as you both want.



It doesn't last forever.. all babies do eventually wean when THEY are ready. My first child weaned at 3 1/2, my second at age 2. Every baby really is different. But I am so so so happy that I allowed them to self-wean. They continue to be such healthy and happy kids.

Amber - posted on 03/31/2012

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Hi,

My daughter is 15 months and still breastfeeding on demand. In many parts of the world it is normal to go past 3 and 4 years and still be breastfeeding. In America it is less, but American Pediatrics says to breastfeed for at least 2 years because the baby is still getting antibodies from mother, and like my lactation consultant says they still get much needed calories from breast milk (especially during night feedings), and it is good for the mother. Many Lactation consultants and myself included will say allow your daughter to ween herself off the breast milk, instead of mother leading the weening as it will be more gentle and comfortable for your daughter and she will do it when she's ready.



I have also been told by my lactation consultant that as your baby gets older she will need to nurse less because she is so efficient at it now, so as you get into your 1 and a half year old nursing it will look more like a couple times of day or few times a day, rather than several times a day, instead of what it was like 8 months ago when it was every couple of hours day and night.



I am going to be enrolling into college to become a lactation consultant myself, so I am of the mind that going past the 1 year mark greatly still benefits baby with much needed anti-bodies and calories and continues the closeness and bond between mother and baby. What I would suggest is contact a local lactation consultant or Le Leacha group for all the wonderful pros of continued breastfeeding past the first year. Lactation Consultants would say to stick with the breast milk if you can rather than cow's milk. My lactation consultant has always really talked about that toddlers run around or crawl around and are busy and burn their calories, so especially the night feedings help give them the calories back. We are still co-sleeping so my 15 month old daughter nurses big gulps at night and gets the much needed calories.



I really think it is important to breast feed after she is one years old and that is what the World Health organizations says and that is what American Pediatrics says.



Good luck, I hope this helps a little. Either way if you decide to stick with it or stop after she is one, I think it is wonderful you kept it up after 11 months :) And, if you do continue to breast feed at the one year mark, I know more and more people are accepting breastfeeding so you shouldn't hit too many critics and if you do, just tell them American Pediatrics recommends it as well as your pediatrician.

-Sincerely,

Amber

Shauna - posted on 03/30/2012

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If you choose to quit after one year, yes, she will absolutely get her nutrients from cows milk and food. She may not go to cows milk right away. I had to get my son to like it by slowly putting a little cows milk with breast milk and changing the ratio until he was finally only on cows milk.



Congratulations on making it this far! :)

Beth - posted on 03/30/2012

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I would take cues from her. My son was down to one feeding a day, right before bed time, at 13 months, so we moved on. Some kids are content going longer. And, take your own feelings into consideration too. Is breastfeeding easy or difficult for you? Are you ready to be done? No need to feel guilty, breastfeeding for the full first year is very braggable and admirable. There's nothing wrong with continuing, but there's also nothing wrong with introducing cow's milk. Both are nutritionally beneficial (though there are some nutrients you need to get from other sources if you're only breastfeeding). Just go with your gut--what are your instincts telling you to do?

Janice - posted on 04/01/2012

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If you are ready to be done then yes you can start weaning and your child can get enough from food and cows milk. However, the one thing your child wont get is antibodies and immune support. I would recommend weaning slowly. I began slowly weaning before my daughter was one. We didnt fully stop until she was 17 months. There was no trauma and now at almost 2.5 she is still very healthy and eats well. Its truly a personal decision and if you dont want to wean, then dont. :)

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Sarah - posted on 12/07/2013

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Please do research on cows milk. Its horrible on the human body. If i decided not to breastfeed id look into different milks. There are different kinds like almond, hemp, rice etc... of course you'll also need to be cautious of allergies. So read up on that. I have stopped drinking milk at 13 when i learned cows milk contains pus molecules and that cows milk strips nutrients like potassium and calcium from your body. Cows milk has calcium but its not as bioflavable as whole plant based milks. I have no idea what milk i would give my dd but im seriously considering pumping my own still.
Im totally proud of my ability to grow this baby myself. Moms milk has so many antibodies, vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins and carbs. Moms milk also changes % of the fats, proteins and carbs based on your babys needs. Your baby cant get that customization from any other source. Also taking probiotics help babies through breastmilk. Cows milk causes so many allergy problems and has been known to increase mucus. More ear infection and asthma prone too. Also moms milk is brain food and baby never needs a flu shot. Wow! I cant believe i remembered all that!! Woo hoo! Lol :)

Amber - posted on 03/31/2012

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Over on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breastfeedi...



The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) emphasize the value of breastfeeding for mothers as well as children. Both recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. The AAP recommends that this be followed by supplemented breastfeeding for at least one year, while WHO recommends that supplemented breastfeeding continue up to two years or more.[9][10][11] While recognizing the superiority of breastfeeding, regulating authorities also work to minimize the risks of artificial feeding.

I found this, but also in several new breast feeding books and what papers they gave me from our pediatrician, lactation consultant, etc it stated AAP and WHO along with solid food, of breast feeding for two years. As it states above, the World Health Organization does state for two years or more. I am trying to find my references now that refereed to AAP stating something similar, and it was a newer statement, though I have now just looked at AAP's website and it says what is stated in the post above. When I find what I am referencing, I will post it.



If I've flubbed on what the AAP recommends, I apologize.



First of all any breast feeding, even if just for one month or 6 months is awesome and is great!

And no one has to do it shorter or longer, only what is right for them and their family and that both momma and baby want to continue doing it longer.

sincerely,

Amber

Shauna - posted on 03/31/2012

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"The AAP reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant."



--http://www2.aap.org/breastfeeding/files/...

[deleted account]

IMO it's entirely a personal choice between you and your child. My twins were weaned at 15 months and my son at 3.25 years old. They are all fairly equal as far as health and growth are concerned. :)

Ania - posted on 03/30/2012

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There is a post on this forum abound benefits of going beyond a year check it out. Cows milk is for cows... :) we went with my son for 21 months. With my daughter that is due in May I'm planning 2 years - as recommended by WHO

[deleted account]

Here's some info on the benefits:

http://kellymom.com/ages/older-infant/eb...



Ultimately it's up to you. Only you know what's best for you and your little one. I decided to let my kids self-wean. We didn't introduce cow's milk until 20 months with my first so I'm not sure about nutrition without nursing. However, toddlers go through picky phases. I never had to worry if my daughter was getting adequate nutrition when she decided not to eat much solids as long as she was still nursing. We also had a tummy bug at 16 months where she refused everything, but breastfeeding. I was happy we were still nursing so she avoided getting dehydrated. Those are just a few of the benefits that I noticed (although there are many :)).

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