How Long Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
One thing Moms frequently ask is: “How long should I breastfeed my baby?” Wondering how long I should breastfeed for was on my mind even before baby was born. Breastfeeding and/or pumping breast milk provides the best nutrition for baby. Moms may even begin breast milk production before starting to provide milk to their newborn. “Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large.” (1) The next question is, how long should I breastfeed for? Post contains affiliate links.
I sat in our pediatrician’s office for my son’s one-year appointment. I removed my washable breast pad and nursed my baby. The doctor asked about breastfeeding and said, “now you can stop nursing and switch him to cow’s milk.” I thought “he’s still a baby, why would my pediatrician tell me to stop breastfeeding and substitute with cow’s milk?” Truth is, the United States falls behind other countries with breastfeeding rates. In the USA “…about 75% of women begin breastfeeding and about 13% only breastfeed until the age of six months.” (2) So, what’s the answer?
So, how long should I breastfeed my baby? Babies should receive breast milk until exclusively, without the use of other foods or beverages, until six months and receive breast milk up until the age of two according to the World Health Organization. (1) Worldwide, babies and toddlers are typically weaned between the ages of two and four (2) and breastfeeding beyond is considered extended nursing and supported for its nutritional benefits.
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What interferes with breastfeeding? Getting a good latch is important and some Moms experience breastfeeding hurdles like mastitis. It’s important to breastfeed on demand and find reliable information from a good support system. As the first breastfeeding woman in my own family, I found my local La Leche League chapter and was thankful for breastfeeding support and help with my free breast pump.