Medically the review by Debra climbed Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT — created by Wendy Wisner on march 25, 2020

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When you start breastfeeding, you most likely don’t have actually a timeline in mental of just how long you’re walk to execute it. You’re simply trying to endure the ill nipples, sleeplessness, and also marathon nursing sessions. Likely, your key goal is to acquire the cave of breastfeeding… and stay sane in the process.

But then you hit her stride. Her baby has their latch down, and you start to get into a nursing routine. For many, breastfeeding ultimately becomes 2nd nature, and also you may begin to enjoy those times that you can finally sit down and also snuggle and feed your small one.

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If you’ve gained to a place where breastfeeding is working well because that you and your baby, you could be starting to wonder: When am I claimed to stop? You may have even heard around something referred to as “extended breastfeeding” or wondered what that was prefer to breastfeed an older infant or toddler.

As you ponder the idea of nursing past the first few months, or also past the very first year, she probably full of questions. So countless questions. That’s completely normal. And also you’ve concerned the ideal place, due to the fact that we’ve got answers. Check out on…

The ax “extended breastfeeding” has actually a different definition depending on that you are, whereby you live, and who you ask.

In some cultures, it’s perfectly typical to breastfeed well previous the very first year the life, for this reason the idea that breastfeeding a baby previous 12 months no “extended” at all. Even in the joined States, there’s a wide variety of “normal” when it involves breastfeeding.

According come the CDC, around 36% the babies room still breastfeeding at 12 months, while around 15% space still doing for this reason by 18 months. However, you’ll uncover that many civilization think that breastfeeding past the minimum suggestions, or even the first couple of months is prolonged breastfeeding.

Most major health organizations recommend nursing her baby because that a minimum of 12 months, yet many health specialists recommend also longer than that. This is what significant medical organizations have to say about extended breastfeeding:

Extended breastfeeding no for anyone (and that’s OK!), but there’s no denying the it has wonderful benefits for both breastfeeding parents and children.


The idea the your milk “turns come water” or lacks nutritional worth after a certain duration is a myth. Research has uncovered that breast milk maintain its nutritional high quality for the entire duration that breastfeeding. Plus, its composition may change based ~ above the requirements of your cultivation child.

For example, one study uncovered that the nutritional content of breast milk mainly stays the same during the second year the life. When zinc and potassium decrease, total protein increases. No alters were it was observed in the lactose, fat, iron, and also potassium components of the milk.

Another study found that breast milk after 1 year had higher energy and fat contents, which may be valuable to babies. “During lengthy lactation, the fat energy contribution of chest milk come the infant diet can be significant,” the researchers surmised.


While over there are definitely ways come bond v your son if you space not breastfeeding, any kind of parent the a toddler will tell you the all the cuddling and closeness of those early on months become harder to come by once your baby is mobile and exploring.

Many breastfeeding parents say the nursing i do not care the one time every day they get to resolve in through their child and also stay connected.


If you proceed to breastfeed your boy for an extensive period, you will do it likely discover that her breasts end up being the ultimate source of comfort for her baby.

This has pluses and minuses, together it have the right to sometimes feel stressful to be the main person your child pertains to when they’re upset or hurt. At the exact same time, parenting is together a wonderful tool for relaxing your child and helping them control their emotions.

Future health and wellness of the parent and baby

Nursing isn’t just healthy during the here and now. Prolonged breastfeeding uses both the parent and also baby long-term health benefits.


The American Academy the American Pediatrics (AAP) describes that for kids who have actually a family background of allergies, breastfeeding for at the very least 4 month can protect them from emerging allergies later on in life.

Breastfeeding for much more than 6 months deserve to protect kids from emerging leukemia and also lymphoma, follow to the AAP. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of developing kind 1 and also 2 diabetes.

Breastfeeding parent

According to the Academy that Breastfeeding medication (ABM), a much longer duration the breastfeeding is associated with maternal an illness reduction and protection. It reduces the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and heart attack, states the ABM.

Extended breastfeeding is a good choice for many families, however it usually doesn’t come without some reservations and worries. Below are few of the top pertains to parents face when lock considering prolonged breastfeeding.

Social judgment

There’s no denying that expanded breastfeeding isn’t constantly accepted through the remainder of society. While many parents nurse their youngsters past 12 months —and also past 2 year — it’s often not a subject that’s talked about openly, and also there’s a stigma attached to doing so.

For everyone who has actually nursed a toddler or child, that a perfect normal and comfortable experience, yet people who perform not recognize what it’s prefer are regularly judgmental.

Is there any benefit because that the child, or is it just for the breastfeeding parent?

You might hear civilization suggest that extended breastfeeding is only for the advantage of the breastfeeding parent, and also that when a kid reaches a specific milestone (teething, eat solids, or asking for milk are commonly mentioned) it’s unreasonable to continue.

As any breastfeeding parent have the right to attest, friend can’t make a kid want come nurse. Breastfeeding is not completed through force. An extensive breastfeeding relationship is — at the main point — one that need to be mutual, through both baby and parent together willing participants.

Can prolonged breastfeeding affect your child’s emotionally development?

Many critics allege that breastfeeding is harmful to a child’s development or emotional well-being. They claim it makes youngsters needy, stunts their independence, and makes them have trouble separating from their parents.

However, there isn’t proof to assistance that claim. As the American Academy of family Physicians (AAFP) states, “There is no proof that prolonged breastfeeding is harmful to mommy or child.” In fact, the AAFP go a step further and claims the nursing beyond infancy deserve to lead come “better society adjustment” because that children.

The Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) has actually a similar stance, explaining the breastfeeding offers “significant health and developmental benefits for the child” and also that over there is “no evidence of psychologic or developmental damage from breastfeeding into the third year that life or longer.”

Nursing enlarge babies and also children comes through a different set of difficulties than parenting a baby. Here are a few of the obstacles breastfeeding parental encounter most, as well as how to address them.

How to take care of the critics

If you select to breastfeed long term, you’re walking to confront judgement and critique. The an excellent news is that there is so much evidence to support the benefits of her choice. Girlfriend will at some point toughen approximately the critique, or in ~ least learn to overlook it. After all, this is your selection and no one else’s.

It can additionally be really advantageous to amass a group of friends who also nurse their little ones previous infancy. Friend can discover these like-minded parental at breastfeeding assistance groups, both in-person and also online.

How to create borders with your child

As your child gets older, the OK if friend don’t want to continue nursing lock “on demand.”

It’s regular to want to set some borders with your child. Some toddlers still desire to nurse “all the time.” If that works for you, that’s great (all youngsters do ultimately taper turn off on their own!). However if you need some an are between feedings, that’s OK too.

Some parents just nurse at nap time and also nighttime. Others just do so at other set times each day. Her child may be uncomfortable at first, but your mental wellness is crucial too, therefore if setting nursing limits is essential for girlfriend to make this work, your son will adjust.

What around nighttime nursing?

Many toddlers proceed to want to nurse at night. It’s really normal, despite it surprises many parents. If nighttime nursing functions well for you, walk for it.

If the doesn’t, girlfriend can start night weaning your child. You deserve to substitute nighttime sessions through water, a back rub, or various other soothing techniques. Some parents uncover that a partner has to take over because that a couple of nights, together their child just wants to nurse if the breastfeeding parent is around.

If night weaning isn’t working, think about trying again in a few months, as soon as your kid is more ready.

When need to you wean?

There’s no set period of time through which you need to wean your child. Doing so is a very personal decision the each family has to make on your own. The American Academy of family members Physicians (AAFP) writes that 2–7 years old is the approximated “natural weaning period for humans.”

Most parenting toddlers normally wean sometime in between 2–4 years. You deserve to wait till that time, or try some gentle weaning approaches on your own, such as “don’t offer, don’t refuse,” slowly shortening parenting sessions, or substituting them with snuggles or another type of connection.

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Extended breastfeeding has actually been taboo for many years, however fortunately, the tide appears to be turning. Celebrities such as Mayim Bialik, Salma Hayek, Alanis Morissette, and also Alyssa Milano have all shared their experience of breastfeeding come 12 months and also beyond, helping normalize the experience.

Your decision around whether come nurse long term is one that you have to feel empowered to make on your own terms and also in whatever method works because that you, her child, and also your family.


Medically the evaluation by Debra rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT — created by Wendy Wisner on in march 25, 2020