How Long is Too Long for Breastfeeding?

 

When it comes to feeding your baby, most experts agree that breastfeeding is the most healthy and safest way to provide your baby the nutrition that she needs. However, the question of when to stop breastfeeding is one that’s often asked, and that has come to the forefront in the last few years.

Here are some of the issues surrounding breastfeeding length that you should be aware of:

  • Some experts believe that the natural length of breastfeeding should be between two and seven years.
  • In many cultures, breastfeeding continues well past the second birthday.
  • In other cultures, particularly in the West, breastfeeding is more or less considered taboo after about 2 years of age.
  • Breastfeeding beyond the age of about 2 years old is generally considered to be for the purposes of bonding, comfort, and security, rather than for health reasons.
  • Many women who were hesitant about breastfeeding at all before their baby was born find that they don’t mind at all, and that it just seems natural even beyond the first couple of years.
  • Nutritional benefits of breastfeeding beyond one year of age haven’t been confirmed.
  • Around 90% of women try to breastfeed at birth.
  • By the age of one year old, about 30% of women are still breastfeeding.
  • Past 24 months, only about 5% of moms are still breastfeeding their children.
  • Children who are breastfed after one year of age still require other food to keep healthy. There have been studies showing a connection between prolonged breastfeeding and malnutrition, provided that the child doesn’t have a varied diet.
  • The World Health Organization recommends that babies be breastfed for a minimum of 2 years.
  • There are health risks for the mother in breastfeeding over the long term. For each year a woman breastfeeds, she increases the risk of developing diabetes by about 15%.

Clearly, more research needs to be done in the area of long-term breastfeeding, to be able to determine just how potentially beneficial it might be, as well as what else needs to be done to make sure the breastfed child maintains their nutritional health.

 


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