Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey

How Long Should I Breastfeed? Part 1


mother baby

Note:  This isn’t a diatribe against people who can’t/don’t breastfeed or those  who don’t breastfeed for a full  year.  No judgment here! It’s directed toward moms who haven’t decided how long to breastfeed or who have committed to do so at least till the one-year mark and wonder what comes next.

Recently a first-time-mom friend asked me about how long to breastfeed.  Interesting, because I had just been thinking about writing something along those lines.

The main question some moms seem to have is that they plan to wean at one year, but their babies still seems very attached.  They wonder: Is it OK to breastfeed past the first birthday?

The short answer is yes.  Not only is it OK, it’s probably quite beneficial to baby.  Many babies just aren’t ready to wean at 12 months.  In its most recent breastfeeding guidelines, the American Association of Pediatrics says:

“Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother, especially in delaying return of fertility (thereby promoting optimal intervals between births).

There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.”

Here’s what the World Health Organization recommends:

“Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.”

In The Vaccine Book, Dr. Robert Sears (of the well-respected Sears family of pediatricians) says:

“If you are breastfeeding, plan to do so for a minimum of one year.  Two years is better.  Not only will your baby catch fewer illnesses, but her immune system may be better equipped to handle vaccines.”

So if you’ve ever wondered, experts agree that breastfeeding longer than one year is just fine, even to be encouraged.  If you choose to wean at 12 months, good for you for making it to that point!  But if you choose to continue, go for it!

Look for part 2, the story of my mom mentor Jenny who gave me wonderful breastfeeding advice!


3 thoughts on “How Long Should I Breastfeed? Part 1

  1. This is a great topic! I would have breastfed my baby till 3 if I could! When you breastfeed you are doing something for your baby that only YOU can do for him. 😉

  2. Thanks for the thoughts. I was just considering what to do with Samuel. The others seemed to wean nicely around 12-14 months, and had dropped down to only 1 comfort feed at bedtime. But he is still going strong at 3-5 feeds per day. I’m in no hurry, but was thinking about it…

  3. I am a huge proponent for breastfeeding. It is known that it helps naturally immunize and no better nutrition for baby exists. I made it to almost 15 months with Anna and found that it was time to wean. She was very clingy to me and had actually bit me hard enough that I ended up with an infection. With my seven month old, now, I am just going to try and be more aware of when weaning becomes necessary. Thanks for posting!

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