- The World Health Organization recommends nursing for a minimum of two years.
- The United Nations Children’s Fund also recommends a minimum of two years.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing for at least a year and for as long after that as is “mutually desirable”.
- The estimated median age of weaning throughout the world is between three to five YEARS.
Why Breastfeed Beyond a Year?
- At one year of age, a baby’s immune system is functioning only at 60 percent of the adult levels. A child’s immune system is not fully functioning at adult levels until six years of age. Nursing toddlers grow better and have better resistance to infection. Some of the antibodies in breast milk actually increase after the first year.
- Better skin.
- There is no easier way to comfort a sick child.
- There is no better way to get nutrition into a picky eating or sick toddler
- Nursing may help improve the dental arch
- Comfort nursing can be a fundamental part and advantage of nursing a toddler; a true temper tantrum tamer!
- Connection and closeness with your child!
The Myths Surrounding Extended Nursing:
- “If a child can ask to nurse, there is something wrong with doing so.”
- “Once a child no longer needs mother’s milk solely for nutritional purposes, there is no sense in breastfeeding.” Or “Your child would eat more solid food if you would just wean him.”
- “After a certain point, the nursing relationship is more for the mother than the child.” (This is especially said regarding 4, 5 year olds who still nurse)
- “Extended nursing will spoil a child.”
- “A toddler who is still nursing is too dependent on his or her mother.”
- “If you weaned your child, your child would not be (insert behavior here)”
- “Comfort nursing encourages the toddler to turn to food for comfort”
All myths; if you need help in refuting these myths please, please contact your local chapter of La Leche League: http://www.llli.org/
Handling Pressure to Wean:
Weaning deserves thought and respect as an important rite of passage in a child’s life.
Please see the other weaning posts on this blog: