10 Good Reasons to Breastfeed Past One Year (And How to Know When You and Your Child are Done)
1. “Nursing makes the job of mothering easier, not harder.” Norma Jean Bumgarner
This has got to be one of my favorite reasons. Of course it’s so good for the child but also what mom doesn’t need her life to be easier?! The good old reasons like “it’s always perfect and ready” still apply but with older babies and toddlers nursing becomes so helpful emotionally. The sucking reflex continues to be very soothing for children far past a year and let’s face it, toddlers get upset kind of a lot. Whether they’ve scraped their knee or don’t like the way their clothes feel, nursing will almost always help.
2. Emotionally Strengthening
Our culture tends to believe that the only way children will become independent is by being thrown into the water per say, but really the opposite is true, when we let kids reach their own milestones they conquer them courageously. When they’re made to do things before they’re ready, like weaning for example it can have a negative effect and make them more nervous and clingy.
3. Breastmilk is Always full of Immunities
Older babies are still getting lots of immunities from their mama milk, this doesn’t just stop all of a sudden. Breastfed toddlers get sick less and are sick for shorter periods than non-breastfeeding children. (Kelly Mom) In the book The Nursing Mothers Companion, Kathleen Huggins shows that when many doctors recommend weaning at one year, a baby’s immune system is only 60% of what it will be as an adult.
4. So Good for Sick Kiddos
When kids do get sick, nursing makes it easier for everyone. Many times a child can’t hold anything down but liquid, and breastmilk is not only soothing but meets all the nutritional needs for a sick baby.
5. Lots of Nutritional Value.
Just because a child is eating solid foods does not mean they no longer get nutritional value from breastmilk. Just like always milk is made specifically for what baby needs. These statistics from Kelly Mom really say a lot. (Kelly Mom)
In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
29% of energy requirements
43% of protein requirements
36% of calcium requirements
75% of vitamin A requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
60% of vitamin C requirements
– Dewey 2001
6. Humans are meant to nurse longer than a year
The work of Kathy Dettwyler compares human growth to that of non-human primates. She reviews growth, birth weight, and dental growth with all cases showing that biologically humans should be nursing much past the age of one year.
“Based on these comparisons, an estimated natural age at weaning for humans would be a minimum of six times gestational length, or four-and-a-half years”
7. Mothers Risk of Illness Declines
The longer you breastfeed the more your risk of getting cancer decreases.
“Compared to parous women who had no history of lactation, a period of lactation of 13-24 months decreased the risk of breast cancer (RR, 0.7; 95% CI, 0.5-1.1), and this risk was decreased even further for those who breastfed for more than 24 months (RR, 0.6; 95% CI, 0.3-1.0). There was a clear trend of decreasing breast cancer risk with the duration of lactation (p for trend <0.001).” Effect of Lifetime Lactation on Breast Cancer Risk
8. Be a Badass Breastfeeder!
Adults and children need to see breastfeeding in everyday life and know that it is healthy and normal. Breastfeeding your toddler and beyond gives you a longer time to demonstrate your breastfeeding to the world and help normalize nursing.
9. WHO Says?
Both The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF recommend that women should breastfeed their children until they are at least two years old and that there are many health benefits in doing so. Links
10. Just Because!
Because you and your baby both love breastfeeding! You’ve made it past the hard part and your work has paid off. Enjoy it!
Along those same lines… How do you know when it’s time to stop nursing your toddler or child? Unless there’s extenuating circumstances keep nursing until you or your child feels done. I hear from lots of mamas who are just kind of over it but their older babies are still going strong. Negative feeling from mom can only hurt the relationship so if you’ve tried your best and just don’t have positive feelings about nursing anymore then you have arrived at the perfect time to wean!
What are the Benefits of Breastfeeding Mor more Than a Year? by Ann Smith IBCLC
Search “Extended Breastfeeding” on The Natural Child Project