5 Benefits to Extended Breastfeeding
When I was breastfeeding my first, I started to get tons of questions around the 12-month mark about when I would stop breastfeeding… But I just didn’t feel like it was time for me to wean yet! Each breastfeeding mom is different, but if you want to continue breastfeeding past one, here are 5 benefits to extended breastfeeding!
1. Developmental Benefits
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated their breastfeeding recommendations to include “The AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, with continuation of breastfeeding for 2 years or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant”... and what some people don’t recognize is the “or longer” part!
In fact, there are many benefits to extended breastfeeding for young children! One of these is their development. KellyMom explains that there are increases in intellectual, mental, and social development for babies who are breastfed longer than a year. Breastfeeding past one has always felt so natural for me! My first breastfeeding journey ended at 24 months. My second at 27 months. Now, my youngest is 11 months and there is no end in sight!
The nutritional value of your breastmilk does not suddenly disappear after your baby turns one. While they will need additional nutrients to reach their daily needs, breastmilk is a great resource for nutrition! The same KellyMom article gives the specific amounts of nutrients that breastmilk can provide a 1 to 2-year-old, showing that around 30% or more of each nutrient can be found in breastmilk! Now that my little guy is eating tons of solids, I make sure we add in additional breast milk when preparing his food. Mashed potatoes are a great one for adding in breastmilk to get the perfect consistency + nutritional benefits. We also started offering a straw cup of breastmilk for each meal as well between nursing sessions!
3. Calming Tantrums
For some reason, breastfeeding past one year or even breastfeeding past 6 months has become taboo. Many people believe that you aren’t supposed to nurse past one year old!
However, one of the great benefits to extended breastfeeding is that you can use it to calm tantrums. Breastfeeding is a huge source of comfort for babies and toddlers, and you can use those benefits to your advantage! Offering your little one to breastfeed when they are stressed, angry, or cranky can calm them down. I personally offer breast as often as possible at this age, it’s almost a guaranteed way to calm my little one down! Never feel guilty for doing it!
4. Soothing When Your Child Is Hurt or Tired
In addition to calming tantrums, one of the benefits to extended breastfeeding is that it can provide a much-needed source of soothing for your child!
When my oldest was a toddler he had an incident that ended in a trip to the ER. I was able to nurse him through getting stitches at the hospital and I can’t imagine going through that without nursing. Times like that can be super scary for toddlers, and being able to lean on the comfort of nursing at breast can provide so much relief!
5. Relieves Teething Pain
Some babies don’t like to nurse when teething… But others want to nurse even more!
And the thing is, kids still have teeth coming in past the age of one. So in order to really utilize the benefits to extended breastfeeding, you can continue nursing your child while they are feeling that pain of teeth breaking through! At 11 months now, we only have 4 teeth! I will be nursing through teething for months to come!
There Shouldn’t Be Pressure to Wean
If you aren’t ready to wean your child, then don’t! There are plenty of supportive women out there who want to cheer you on during your breastfeeding journey.
There is a lot more knowledge on the benefits to extended breastfeeding beyond 2+ years than people think there is. Whether you are nursing, pumping, or a combo of the two, you can do what makes you and your baby feel comfortable and happy!
And if you plan on breastfeeding for an extended period of time, you definitely need an amazing nursing/pumping bra to help you through! My favorite is the Amelia Cami! It’s cute, comfortable, and can be used for a variety of nursing and pumping styles. You can also grab my latest obsession, the Amelia Swim Cami for making breastfeeding at the pool and beach this summer a breeze!
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