Breastfeeding: How Long Should You Nurse?
A new mother has countless questions about every aspect of her baby’s health and happiness. Breastfeeding is a source of many of these questions. For those who are able and have chosen to breastfeed their babies, the question of “how long?” inevitably comes up. Whether you are hoping that breastfeeding can last forever, or you are wishing for some autonomy sooner rather than later, here are some guidelines that will help you make the best choices for you, your baby and your family.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding has benefits for both babies and their mothers. According to the CDC, breastfed babies have a lower risk of developing asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, gastrointestinal infections and lower respiratory disease.
Mothers who have breastfed at some point in their lives have a lower chance of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
How Long Should You Breastfeed?
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) both recommend that newborns are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. After that, the AAP recommends slowly adding non-human milk and some solid foods into your baby’s diet along with breast milk until 1 year of age. The WHO recommends including breast milk in your baby’s diet until two years of age.
The ultimate decision is yours. Your child will be perfectly fine if you decide that it is best for both you and your baby to wean off breast milk and use formula or, if your child is old enough, move on to solid foods and non-human milk. Some babies will be ready to wean themselves sooner than their mother is ready. Other babies and mothers would rather continue nursing into the toddler years. Every mother should make her own decision as to when to stop breastfeeding.
How will you know when it is time to wean your baby from breastfeeding? Your little one will give you some clues if she is ready. She may start to lose interest in nursing or just not nurse for very long each time. Even if your baby is not giving you signs that she is ready, you may want to wean her because of your own needs and demands on your life.
The first step to weaning your baby is to take your time. If you have a deadline for weaning, make sure to start well in advance of the time that you want her weaned. Start slowly by dropping a feeding every five or seven days. If you take your time, your baby will have a more comfortable transition and you will not suffer from engorged breasts.
You can either wean your baby to a bottle or a sippy cup, depending on her age. Make sure that your baby is receiving the right number of calories from other sources like formula, cow’s milk, or solid foods. If you have any questions, contact your pediatrician for more information about feeding your little one.
Bottles After Breastfeeding
If you are weaning your baby onto a bottle, make sure you choose one that is similar to a breast. Baby Blendy Bottles use breast-like silicone nipples that feel a lot like the real thing. The anti-colic venting system also saves your baby’s tummy from becoming full of gas when you switch to a bottle. Baby Blendy Bottles’ gentle blender works well for both formula and stored breastmilk.
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