Happy and Healthy Baby: Benefits of Extended BreastfeedingJanuary 9, 2020
One of the most common questions that nursing moms have is, “When should I stop breastfeeding my baby?” Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. So many factors can impact your decision: work, your health, your comfort level, your child’s individual needs.
What is extended breastfeeding?
The definition of extended breastfeeding varies. Some sources define it as breastfeeding past the age of one year. The more common definition, however, is breastfeeding past the age of two years – in other words, nursing a toddler or young child.
Why is there such a difference in how we define extended breastfeeding? It all depends on who you look to for your recommendations. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding until at least the age of two. The WHO is the world’s largest organization devoted to human health and well-being. Their recommendation does not take into account social norms, but instead focuses solely on the health benefits to child and mother.
In the United States, the foremost experts on infants’ and children’s health is the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP recommends nursing until the age of one, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby are comfortable. Why do they not recommend the full years as prescribed by the WHO? My theory is that while the AAP is working in the interest of children’s health, they also must take into account social and political interests. Most Americans are not comfortable seeing a child nursing past the age of one, so the AAP keeps its recommendation low in the hope that mothers will at least nurse their children for the first year of life. The drawbacks of weaning before age one are much more severe than the drawbacks of weaning between the age of one and two, so the AAP is attempting to entice mothers to nurse for at least that first year. Anything longer is considered a “bonus.”
Extended breastfeeding benefits baby’s health
It is an undisputed fact in the worldwide medical community that extended breastfeeding has a significant positive impact on a child’s health. The benefits of breastfeeding don’t just magically stop on the first or second birthday. Breastmilk provides extra calories that a toddler’s body needs to help him grow strong. Extended nursing also boosts a child’s immune system by providing a steady supply of antibodies and vitamins. Babies and toddlers who are weaned before the age of two are at a higher risk for illness and allergy than those who continue to breastfeed after the age of two. When they do get sick, children who are still breastfeeding will be less sick than their peers who are not breastfed, and will be sick for a shorter period of time.
Extended breastfeeding may also help lower the risk of food allergy. Breastfeeding speeds the maturation of the baby’s gut, which can lower the risk of food allergy. The longer that a child receives breastmilk as part of his diet, the more he can reap the benefits.
Extended breastfeeding benefits baby socially and developmentally
You’ve probably heard of the studies linking breastfeeding with higher IQ. This connection is more pronounced in children who are breastfed past the age of two.
For many children, nursing provides a sense of comfort. This comfort and security may help foster independence. If the child has that added security, he will be more willing to take steps toward independence. Forcing a child to wean before he is ready may actually cause him to be more clingy, rather than the other way around.
Extended breastfeeding also benefits the mother
Breastfeeding lowers the mother’s risk of developing certain cancers, such as breast and ovarian cancer, and other conditions such as osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. The longer a mother nurses her child, the lower the risk. In addition, many women report delayed fertility (no periods) until they stop breastfeeding their child. Who wouldn’t love that?
Of course, any amount of breastfeeding is better than none, so if for some reason extended breastfeeding does not work out for you and your child, don’t stress. But if you are willing and able to continue to breastfeed your child past the age of two, the benefits are amazing. For more information about extended breastfeeding, please refer to the websites listed in the “additional resources” section of this article. If you want to know more about the career in the Nursing, then click at the site www.findcnaclasses.com. All the knowledge about the pros of breastfeeding and cna classes are mentioned at the link of the website.