Breastfeeding a toddler has to be my ultimate favourite age by far. There are many reasons I’ve chosen to continue to breastfeed my daughter who is currently 2 years and 4 months!
Throughout my journey, I’ve heard many people comment on the fact ‘there are very few benefits to feeding over 6 months.’ I get it, sole nutritional benefits may deplete after 6 months particularly as you begin to introduce solids to a babies diet. But there are many other benefits – and many we don’t talk enough about!
Breastfeeding past two years of age is recommended
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF both recommend exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months, and once solids have been introduced to continue breastfeeding for two years and beyond.
Most recently the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its guidance on breastfeeding to be in-line with WHO.
There are many reasons breastfeeding past two years of age makes sense.
Continuing to breastfeed has lots of benefits
Breastfeeding over 6 months can provide protection against certain childhood cancers, such as acute lymphocytic leukaemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Breastfeeding can also reduce the risk of a child developing type 1 diabetes.
This is in addition to the fact breastfeeding has been shown to decrease the rates of lower respiratory tract infections, obesity, severe diarrhea, and ear infections in children.
Longer-term breastfeeding also benefits mothers
As well as benefiting children, longer-term breastfeeding can also benefit mothers like me. For example, research shows extended breastfeeding over the age of 6 months is likely to reduce the risk of a mother developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Breastfeeding beyond one year and for up to two years has also been associated with protections for the breastfeeding parent against high blood pressure, diabetes as well as breast and ovary cancers, according to the AAP.
Breastfeeding beyond one year and for up to two years has been associated with protections for the breastfeeding parent against high blood pressure, diabetes and breast and ovary cancers
It’s not just the scientific evidence that matters
As a nurse, the scientific research of course motivates me to keep breastfeeding, but there are other reasons why I continue to breastfeed – which are just as significant and important.
Breastfeeding my daughter hugely benefits my busy lifestyle. I’m always on the go – whether at home or work – and breastfeeding gives me the ability to calm down/relax and unwind. As mothers, we all lead busy lives which can often produce stress. My breastfeeding time with Winnie is my ultimate rewind and relax time. When we breastfeed we produce a hormone called Oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone.’ As we feed this instantly produces that feel-good factor!
Breastfeeding provides comfort, security and more
The emotional side of things plays a huge factor in why both mothers and children continue to want to breastfeed. It gives us connection, closeness, and comfort.
Childrens brains develop rapidly, particularly during the first 2 years of life, and I think it’s crucial to offer as much emotional support as possible to your child during this time. Breastfeeding is a fantastic way to offer comfort, security and more to our children.
Childrens brains develop rapidly, particularly during the first 2 years of life, and I think it’s crucial to offer as much emotional support as possible to your child during this time.
Enjoy your the journey for however long it lasts
My advice to any breastfeeding mothers is to always remind yourself of the benefits breastfeeding can bring – both now and in the future too. When the days are hard and you become drained, dig out that little piece of research that keeps you positive.
Enjoy your special moments feeding your child and don’t stress about what others may think. Instead, take notice of the feelings it produces and make the most of the experience as you genuinely don’t know when the journey will end.
Disclosure: This story is someone’s own personal account of their breastfeeding journey. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and are not upheld in any way by Boobingit. Boobingit is not responsible for any outdated or factual inaccuracies which may appear.
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