It is not uncommon to hear a mom say her 1 year old (or older) child is only nursing for comfort, or they know their child doesn’t need it for nutrition. You can almost hear the shame or uncertainly in their voice, that nursing a toddler is taboo. Their toddler shouldn't still be nursing, right?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends continued breastfeeding until one year of age. Then mom and baby can decide what is best for them. The World Health Organization (WHO) goes further, recommending a full two years. The WHO even goes so far as suggesting to delay the subsequent pregnancy for two years, partly so the child gets the full two years of breast milk. Kellymom.com, as always, does a great job of rounding up the literature on extended breastfeeding and its benefits.
Here are a few benefits for your consideration:
1. Nutrition. Some sources say breast milk can make up to 50-75% of a 12 month old's calorie intake.
2. Improved immunity. All of those great immune benefits of breastfeeding don’t stop at the age of 1!
3. Maternal Health Benefits. Extended breastfeeding can suppress fertility, decrease risk of cancer, and a variety of other health benefits for mom.
When considering when to wean your baby, don’t let age be the only deciding factor! Know the recommendations and evidence to make the best decision for you and your baby.