Has anyone breastfed exclusively for the 1st year?

Marnie - posted on 03/17/2012 ( 177 moms have responded )

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I have heard that Nursing exclusively for the 1st year can really boost the baby's immune system against all kinds of things. Has anyone had any experiences with it?

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Rebecca - posted on 03/31/2012

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I breastfed for 12 months exclusively. Yes, it helps with immunities. Although my son has been sick a lot from age 12 months on, I believe it would have been worse had he not been breastfed. Plus, with the formula contamination issues, I am relieved, I pumped at work. Yes, it was challenging. My son's health was worth it.

Merry - posted on 03/30/2012

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Pamela, that was the advise years ago, but now we know more about the digestive system of babies and so it's well recommended that nothing at all be given to babies except breastmilk for the first six months.

Water can be given in small amounts as solids are introduced but juice shouldn't be given until at least a year if at all.

[deleted account]

Pamela, I'm afraid you are the one that is grossly misinformed. I certainly don't know every doctor/nurse in the world, but of all the ones I do know.... not one would ever recommend starting solids prior to 4 months at the earliest. Not too mention that juice is never needed and water under 6 months can actually kill a child (NOT saying it will, but CAN).



Some babies do need solids starting at 4-6 months, but many others can and do thrive on just breast milk alone for much longer.



My girls did start solids early, but my son did not. He did have solids on rare occasion starting at 6 months and water on rare occasion starting at 7 months, but otherwise.... strictly breast milk for over a year. All 3 of my kids are pretty much equal as far as growth and health are concerned.

Carrie - posted on 03/28/2012

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I breast feed both of my daughters exclusively for the first year (meaning, I never used formula). I introduced Rice Cereal at about 6 months along with Veggie purees, and then table food at about 9 months. I introduced whole milk at 1 year for meal/snack time and nursed in the morning and before bed until about 15 months.



Current guidelines suggest not introducing foods until about 6 months and baby lead feeding is best (meaning, allow your baby to eat as much or little real foods as they choose and then nurse for the balance of the meal). Your baby is the best judge of how much he/she needs to consume.



Nursing is a wonderful way to help babies build up immunities AND it is a great bonding experience. Don't let anyone talk you out of nursing if that is what you want for your baby!! Good Luck!!

Shelly - posted on 03/28/2012

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Pamela - 2 months is pretty early to be introducing solids of any sort - their digestive systems aren't generally ready for that yet. The current recommendations where we live is to start solids around 6 months.



The doctors here also don't recommend any fluids other than breast milk or formula for pretty much the first year. Babies get all the fluid they need from milk, and to give them other fluids just fills them up and therefore reduces the amount of milk they get.

Pamela - posted on 03/28/2012

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If you mean that you would give your child ONLY breastmilk for the entire first year, then I believe you are misinformed. Yes, breastfeeding for the first year is best, if the child chooses it that long. However, it is also necessary to give your baby other liquids and other foods as well.



At 2 months, or thereabouts, babies begin pureed foods, fruits, cereals, etc. Then later solids are introduced. All of the while breastmilk is still being given regularly. Babies should also regularly get water and juices to supplement the diet.



The best thing however is to not allow the child to get hooked on a bottle at any time. Cups should be introduced at the time when the child can hold them steadily, which is around 6 months, or later for some children.



It is quite true that ONLY breastmilk holds NATURAL antibodies that are passed from Mother to child and that it is BEST to breastfeed as long as possible for this very reason.

Nomsa - posted on 03/28/2012

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my son is 9 months old and he is not really interested in solids. he weighs 10 kg and hi pediac is worried sick about him. Am not worried and am sure he is getting everything from the breast. So will breastfeed until he is ready to eat solids, for now breast seems enough for him.And yeah he sucks the life out of me day and night.

Angela - posted on 03/28/2012

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I breast feed my daughter for 2y4m. She did start solids at 5m but as I worked mornings, the rest of the day she was often on the breast. She had chest problems and was on a cortison pump and allergy medication from 6m old. But by 18m she was off all the medication. I'm positive that the extended breastfeeding did make a hugh difference to her immune system.

Amanda - posted on 03/28/2012

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It's all really up to you and your baby, i had to stop at 9 months as my son cut his first two teeth and started to bite me. Although i was eating all i needed and fed him exclusively he still became sick. My daughter was a bottle fed baby from the get go and found their health was the same.

Amber - posted on 03/27/2012

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I have done all different things with all 4 of my kids. I did exclusively breast feed my 2nd for 15 months, but it was awful trying to ween him. And he has been by far my sickest of all my kids. He has many food allergies, asthma, and sinus problems than any of my other 3.

I used to be a Medical Assistant at a Pediatric office and have heard many times that Colostrum is the most important part. So, my other 3 were breast fed anywhere from 3 wks. to 6 months. (3 wks. not by choice to stop, but was hospitalized for 7 wks.)

I would suggest giving baby food at 6 months so they get used to different textures and tastes.

Hope that helps.

Stephanie - posted on 03/27/2012

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My son turned one yesterday. We breastfed exclusively for the whole year. I'm not sure if it's due to being breastfed or just good genes, but he had only one cold and one fever that wasn't related to having his vaccines. He is a healthy, happy and thriving little boy.

Maria - posted on 03/27/2012

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Breastfed for a year (NEVER formula), solids around 7 months, and still... a very sick baby, very prone to ear infections, several strept, severe brochitis 2 times before 18 months, flu several times and a heart condition....

there are no guarantees.....

Markita - posted on 03/27/2012

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Not exclusively, as I didn't produce enough to satisfy him once he got moving, but I did nurse my first for almost two years. I've heard that it's good as well but once they become aware of the table and you eating they want to also. It's hard to keep it exclusively just breastfeeding. Are you planning on trying it?

Jodie - posted on 03/27/2012

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I did with my first one and she was sick all the time! I'm doing it again with my second (11mos) and he is healthy as can be! Well worth the bonding alone!

Amanda - posted on 03/27/2012

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i breastfed for the first year and half of my daughters life and i will say that she rarely got sick and if she did it was very mild.... however i did not exclusively breastfeed she was getting cereal and fruits and veggies, snacks(i.e. num nums fruit bars ect.) just beacuse she was not getting full just off my milk. she did not take formula or my mile from a bottle so i had to breastfeed! but i would do it the same way with the next one all over again!

Carol - posted on 03/27/2012

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My daughter couldn't get anywhere with a hand pump, but does very well with an electric one, brand name Medulla. I encourage you, Jacky, to keep breastfeeding as long as it's good for your baby, no matter what effort it takes. He's little such a short time, and the benefits are immense. My best to you.

[deleted account]

I can't answer your question about breast pumps Jacky, but my son grew great on pretty much just breast milk alone. He did start solids at 6 months, but was probably only eating them a couple times/week (at the most) til a year and still had some breast milk only days til around a year and a half.



He's a happy, healthy, thriving 4 year old (today!). He is on the smaller side, but has a low end of average sized father (5'8") and a tiny mom (4'11"). His rate of growth actually dropped after we weaned at 3.25 years old even though he pretty much eats non stop most days. ;) He's still taller and heavier than his cousin who is 11 months older than he is......

Jacky - posted on 03/27/2012

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What? Deformed pears for baby food, that scary.

Have another question, I am due to go back to work soon and in the past I could breastfeed very well, but when it came to expressing, nothing really came out. I tried different breast pumps and nothing, now I am afraid that me going back to work may force me to introduce formulae as a result of unsuccessful expressing. Can you ladies identify with my issue? also could please recommend the best breast pump in your experiences.

Kelly - posted on 03/27/2012

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I breastfed my son for 2 years. He is 8 now and has never had an ear infection or strep throat. Nothing worse than the flu.

Carol - posted on 03/27/2012

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I breastfed 4 children, both daughters till they were 3, and both sons to 15 months. I did start solids around 6 months, but all 4 of them were still getting most of their nutrition from the breast for most of the first year. None of them had much illness. Oldest daughter only one ear infection when she was 3, both sons none ever, and youngest daughter just one around a year old. When my oldest was 12 months she got some sort of 24-hour stomach bug which resulted in diarrhea for a month. She ate almost nothing besides nursing for that time, and felt well, was lively. Two doctors failed to help with the diarrhea, but I finally found out about acidophilus, and that stopped it overnight. I think she would likely have ended up in the hospital with dehydration if she had not still been nursing. When you do start solids, make your own--you don't know what's in those jars in the store. In my youth I packed pears in a warehouse, and we threw the deformed and unsaleable pears into a bin to be used for baby food. So I just used a blender--saved money too.

Jacky - posted on 03/27/2012

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Exclusively? Really? I have a 4 month old right now, his my third and breastfeeding exclusively, I plan to introduce solids at about 6 months or so, but if it isnpossible to actually breastfeed him for 12months without solid that would be great, but doctors recommend that food should be introduced as 6mnths or older. I personally have never meet someone who has done this before. Does a child grow well on just breast milk for a full year?

Emily - posted on 03/27/2012

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I think it is different for everyone. My boys were BF for very short amounts of time. All are tall & healthy. They rarely get sick & even then it's maybe a little cold. In contrast, my friend who BF her kids for 3 years a piece are sick all the time. Every time I talk to her she is telling me about some new illness in the house. Last year her oldest missed 14 days of school b/c of random illnesses.

Shelly - posted on 03/27/2012

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I'm not sure about nursing exclusively, if by that you mean not starting solids. Most babies are quite ready to start some solids around 6 months, and probably need the extra nutrition from other foods around that time. It also teaches them to chew and swallow solids, and it gives us the chance to expose them to many different flavours, before they develop likes and dislikes about food.

If, however, you mean not supplementing breast milk with other fluids, that is definitely worthwhile. None of my 3 kids had formula. I breastfed till they were at least one year, at which point I started introducing regular milk, and started cutting back on nursing. You can nurse well beyond that if you want. I liked nursing, and with each successive child I breastfed longer. The third was 2 1/2 years before I completely weaned her.

Diana - posted on 03/27/2012

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I have 5 boys. I breastfed all of them until they were 18 months old at least. My baby is still going strong at 19 months. I think the effects last longer than most people think. I have a very large family. Most of the kids were breast fed for a short amount of time except my siblings, myself and my kids. I can name the illnesses my kids have had. All five of them on both hands. My oldest has been very sick once when he was 9 months old. Had a GI infection. My 2nd and 3rd child have never had any serious illnesses. They get allergies 1 x a year for about a week. At 15, my oldest has only gotten a cold or the flu when finals are coming up. My 13 has never really gotten sick. He has had a cough for a few days a few times. My 11 yo has had the flu 2 times. My whole family got a sinus infection that just cleared up but it wasn't that bad. My 15 yo had formula a few times. The 4 older kids all ate baby food and real food from about 6 months on. Nursing 3-4 times a day.

My baby has some type of cerebral palsy or sensory disorder so he is still getting about 90% of his nutrition from me at 19 months.

By the way, my brother gets sick 1 x every few years. When I get sick it is very mild. My other siblings hardly get sick and when they do it is mild.

Maxine - posted on 03/27/2012

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I BF my daugther till she was two, and though i started baby led weaning with her when she was 6 months, she barely ever ate an 'real' food. even after she was a year old she didn't eat much, untill i weaned her off my milk, now she is a bottomless pit practically always in the fridge! I do think her immune system is brilliant. she has never been ill, not a cold, tummy big or fever (well, one fever that was teething related), the only thing she gets is a runny nose! I didn't worry about her eating 'real' food as long as i breast feed her, your milk is just whatever you have eaten in liquid form, so they eat, what you eat, so they get everything they need from the milk. I believe in letting the child decide what they want! (to a point!)

Jennifer - posted on 03/27/2012

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Hi i breastfeed both of my children; my son for 1yr & 3 days because he was sick for those last 3 day (mildly) & my daughter for 1yr. While breastfeeding has MANY great advantages for both mother & baby its not recommended to exclusively breastfeed for so long they will need food to provide extra nurishments as well as learning to chew & swallow & many other things. As they get to be around 4-6mo (4mo in my case) they will start to need much more then breast milk it just won't be enough for them & you'll end up CONSTANTLY feeding them & they could end up with MANY health problems do to being undernourished.

Ellie - posted on 03/27/2012

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I bf for a year even though I returned to work almost full time after 5 months. My daughter was a great nurser and I produced enough milk for twins but she wanted more and by 8 months, at thanksgiving actually, she got a taste of "real food" and really liked it. At about 4 or 5 months we had to supplement with cereal and baby food. I was determined to nurse a full year and even then I cried and didn't want to stop but she wanted real food - even the baby food was no longer acceptable. Once we got down to just the morning and bedtime feedings, it was a full year and then I had to give it up because I became ill and the medication was not something she could be exposed to. Lukily, I didn't have to take it right away and have another few days to say, this is the last time... It is such a beautiful experience if it is something you can do and it works out for your baby. Not everyone can and they should not be ashamed or feel guilty. I just happen to be lucky and was able to do it and loved it. As for the illness issue? Well, I only nursed my son for 5 months and he had tubes then tonsiles removed long before my daughter did. Yes I think it helps but I also think its genetics and environment. My illness by the way was pre-existing and chronic (MS) YES, Moms with MS can and SHOULD nurse! It's great is you can do it. There is even research out there about it - I was apart of it. Good luck!

Rebecca - posted on 03/27/2012

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Yes I breast feed my now 8 yr old till she was 2.5 yrs old.She never once had a cold flu runny nose or any thing.it was great.

Diana - posted on 03/27/2012

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I breastfed my 2nd until she was 14 mos. She still caught colds that first year, but she also went to daycare which I think makes a huge difference in the number of colds they get. I worked full time, but was able to visit halfway through the day to nurse her. When I couldn't nurse, I would pump.



She did have ear infections, but in her case & my older daughter's case the ear infections were caused by the fact that they ear canals were more horizontal and not as vertical as most "normal" babies. They both needed ear tubes in both ears (6 infections each in 6 months!). They younger one grew out of it by the time she was 2, but the older one needed one in the left ear 2 more times.



I will say though that the only food allergy she has is to shellfish. My girls are 9 & 11 now & usually perfectly healthy. They rarely get sick. My older daughter has seasonal allergies & my younger one develops seasonal ecsema, but then a lot of that is hereditary.

Rosalinda - posted on 03/27/2012

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Yes it sure does boost there imune system to another level my kids are teens now but i use to take them around all my nieces and nephews when they had chicken pox and they never still till this day never got them the never got sick the Dr told me i past on my vaccines to them while breastfeeding ,I hope that's helpful It's a beautiful bond with your baby so its got a lot of added bonuses:)

Mother - posted on 03/27/2012

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Certainly NOT exclusively for the entire year. I added other foods in around 5 months but continued to BF. She self weened just before 14 months. I made all her own baby food except, she loved the jarred bananas.

Monica - posted on 03/27/2012

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Donna,

You are my hero...Not giving up - you are one amazing Mom. Taking the time to figure out what was wrong and why your baby still nurses at almost 3. She is blessed to have you as her Mom!

Lisa - posted on 03/26/2012

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I fed my daughter for 15.5mths, and my son is still BFing at the same age, don't think he'll wean for a bit longer yet.



They have both been relatively healthy, still get common colds etc, but not for long and a few extra BF's and they are happy. my daughter didn't get an ear infection until 2yrs, and gastro about 7mths after weaning. so i think breastfeeding helped thier immune systems. just boosts them abit to help them fight off the bugs. both of mine didn't start solids until 5-6mths, and my boy has only just started eating with enthusiasm.

Donna - posted on 03/26/2012

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My daughter (2nd child) refused all solids till 15 1/2 months & then it was only tastes! She has lots of allergies & had eczema. I tried but she would not even taste food till then. I had to breastfeed her around the clock 2 hourly or even more sometimes. She has more recently been diagnosed with Pyrrole Disorder (she doesn't absorb zinc & Vit B6) & thats the reason. Her gut wasn't ready for food - it literally hurt her tummy, so she only wanted breastmilk. I've had to be on her allergy diet to feed her (No gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, nuts). I am in the process of weaning (she is nearly 3!) which is very hard since she was so attached to it! She is getting stronger & her allergies aren't as bad, so I'm hoping she will outgrow some/most of them. We've done lots of natural things to try & help her. Apart from allergies, she has been a very healthy child with so few other illnesses (even with low zinc) thanks to breast milk! My 1st child started solids at 7 months, breastfed till 26 months & is a very healthy child.

Holly - posted on 03/26/2012

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So far, I have breastfed my baby exclusively for 10 months. I plan on nursing for at least the first year exclusively. My baby has had one upper respiratory infection due to an allergy. Other than that, a perfect bill of health. Breastfeeding doesn't mean that your baby will not get sick, but it decreases the chances. Also, when they do get sick, it is less severe. My only negative so far with nursing exclusively, is that my body is wanting to hold on to extra weight. I didn't have this problem with my first baby 10 years ago, but I am with this baby. I have excepted that I may not loose all of the baby weight until I finish nursing. I'm ok with this, because I will only get to nurse my baby for a short time in her very long life.

Ginny - posted on 03/26/2012

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I breastfed both of my children for 2 years (exclusively for ine year). My oldest son was never sick until he started school and my 2 1/2 year old has never been sick. I definitely think breastfeeding can do wonders for a baby's immune system not to mention all the other positive things that go along with it.

Heather - posted on 03/26/2012

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I was always told "food for fun until one". All three of mine were breastfed until at least 6 1/2 months old...my first one til then. My second one until almost 10 months. I am still breastfeeding my little guy...he is almost 10 months. And there is no sign of stopping with him. With all of them, we did introduce solids just for the texture, taste, etc...around 6 months. But their main source of nutrition was breastmilk. The only reason I stopped with my first was because I didn't know all that I know now! She went on a nursing strike and I assumed she was done...little did I know i didn't have to give it up...I plan to continue breatfeeding for as long as my little guy wants to. My oldest has had her share of colds and such (missed days of school, etc...) whereas my second has hardly ever been sick. She is in 1st grade and has yet to miss a day. Perfect attendance both years so far. And the baby...not one cold yet.



And I agree with Diane! I tell people all the time how much easier breastfeeding is than bottle feeding. No worrying about bottles and formula, etc....when we want to go somewhere, we load up in the car and go. No need to worry about how many bottles to prepare! It is always available.

Lori - posted on 03/26/2012

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@ Krista, I am so glad that some one else disagrees with the statement you first made in your thread below. After my daughter was diagnosed with Sensory Defensiveness and could not eat food due to her gag reflex, the Pediatrician actually told me " now Mrs. Miles, who is really benefiting from you still nursing your daughter at 2 years old? You or her?" I was livid...not only was I exhausted from the multiple breastfeeding sessions that a 2 year old needs, but I was concerned because she would not/could not eat food, we started with baby food at 6 months, she would gag on it and throw it up, and tried everything, I even took our table food and pureed it to try and see if that would work....it didn't. So thank you for your statement, I agree, breastfeeding exclusivly for the first 6 months and then introducing foods one at a time to ensure your child does not have an alergic reaction is best. I would never say that it HAS to be done, every mother and child is different, what works for one, may not work for another. Each mother has to play it by ear and see what their child is able to handle. Good luck ladies, it all works out in the end! As I stated before, my daughter is a very healthy 14 year old!

[deleted account]

I take it you really don't know much about breastfeeding at all, Fleming?



And since I don't have a nice way to say what else I want to say.... I'll stop there.

Diane - posted on 03/26/2012

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I breastfed my 2nd son for the entire first year, but I did supplement with solids starting when he was several months old. I can't imagine getting a baby through a whole year with nothing but breast milk, though I'm sure someone has done it. In my view, he got all the benefits of that first year of breastfeeding. I only stopped at that point because he weaned himself and refused to continue breastfeeding.



My 1st son was bottle fed, as we were running a business out of our home when he was born and had people coming in and out all day and I didn't think I could handle breastfeeding under those conditions. Honestly, I have to say that both of them have been equally healthy, almost never sick, no ear infections, but neither of them went to day care as I was a stay at home mom until the younger one was 5. I think that played a huge part in their early health.



Having done it both ways, I can say it is MUCH easier and cheaper to breastfeed~! Breastfeeding is so simple and convenient, compared to sterilizing bottles & nipples, purchasing & mixing formula, carrying chilled bottles, etc. Breast milk is always ready, always available, and easy to use. I much preferred breastfeeding to bottle feeding!



One other interesting issue, is that the 1st son (bottle fed) was a very cuddly easy baby to bond with. The 2nd son (breastfed) was a more reserved infant & less affectionate by nature and still is to some degree. I'm glad I was able to breastfeed the 2nd one, as I think it helped the bonding tremendously in his case.

Krista - posted on 03/26/2012

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Breastfeeding a child with only breast milk for the 1st year does not boost the baby's immune system. A child nutrition requires fruits, cereals,and meat for a healthy diet.

Children who are breast fed for longer than 4 mos are fulfilling the psychological needs of the mother, not the child's needs.




Um, no. Sorry. But every single health and pediatrician organization in the world disagrees with you.



The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age, with breastfeeding continuing until the child is at least 2.



The AAP recommends breastfeeding until the baby is at least 12 months old.



Health Canada says, "Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of life for healthy term infants, as breast milk is the best food for optimal growth. Infants should be introduced to nutrient-rich, solid foods with particular attention to iron at six months with continued breastfeeding for up to two years and beyond."





So in response to Marnie's question, you will probably want to introduce solids at some point after your baby is 6 months old, but wait until he or she shows an interest in it, and then be sure to introduce good, healthy foods. Wholesomebabyfood.com has some great resources on solids and how to introduce them.

Monica - posted on 03/26/2012

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I have nursed 3 of my 4 children for 2 1/2 yrs each. Although I didn't nurse exclusively for 1 yr. I started baby cereals around 5 months, they are all very healthy and are rarely ever sick. My oldest was nursed 13 months b/c I went back to work. He too is very healthy at 14! I found that my children needed more food than just breastmilk. I'm sure that however long you nurse will benefit your baby!

Felicia - posted on 03/26/2012

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I breast fed one of my daughters for two years. She never had to got the hospital for any sicknesses. My first kid I breastfed for 18 months and she was pretty healthy too.

Delci - posted on 03/26/2012

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My son just turned two, and we still breastfeed (twice a day, nap time and bedtime). We started solids around 5 months; he has never had formula. I do think breast milk has given him a huge boost to his immune system, because he rarely gets sick. In his two years, he's had about two colds and two bouts of fever (one of which was a response to an immunization shot). I should also add that he does not go to daycare, which I think makes a HUGE difference.

Kristen - posted on 03/26/2012

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I nursed all 3 of my girls for a little over a year, and although it's not like they never get sick, they do seem to be healthier than their peers. No excess, no asthma, no allergies

Annie - posted on 03/26/2012

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I breast fed my son until he was 7 months, it was his choice to stop, not mine, and my daughter for 2 years. In terms of healthy, they both are quite healthy. They never get a cold, and have each been on antibiotics exactly one time. He is now 15, and she is just about 13.



So I do not think the length has anything to do with it, just that you do it for as long as you can.

Janice - posted on 03/26/2012

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Fleming you are very wrong about breastfeeding past 4 months. I am unsure if exclusive breastfeeding will boost the immune system. However, infants do not NEED fruits and veggies till almost a year. I personally think it is best to begin solids around 6 months because a baby should get used new flavors and textures before it is essential to their health. However, breast milk always does carry more nutrients and antibodies no matter what age so if you continue to breastfeed your child, it does increase the chances to avoid illnesses.



And just an FYI that I have learned along the way, doctors are not actually trained in infant nutrition (unless they go out of their way to do so), so people often getting very poor advice about how to feed their baby from pediatricians. If you want some great info on breastfeeding visit Kellymom.com :)

Sheri - posted on 03/26/2012

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Yes I did. The best decision I could have made. My daughter has never had an ear infection. She doesn't get sick too often. Great experience. The closer she got to turning one the less she nursed during the day. Mostly in the am and at bedtime as she approached one.

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