Extended Breastfeeding: Nursing Beyond a Year

July 8, 2013

happy familyWe all remember the “Are You Mom Enough?” cover of Time Magazine in May 2012, featuring model Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. It caused a media and mommy uproar over nursing beyond the first year, also known as extended breastfeeding. But whether or not you do it, extended breastfeeding is exceedingly common around the world. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for as long as you and your child mutually desire it.

It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again: breast milk is liquid gold.

Extended breastfeeding provides numerous benefits for your child, even as a toddler. Your breast milk continues to change to meet the nutritional needs of your growing child. It provides crucial immunities, enzymes and vitamins that your child may not get from solid foods, ensuring he or she is as healthy as possible. Breast milk can also be a cure-all for many bugs your child may catch, especially if he or she is sharing germs with other kids at day care or on play dates.

There are remarkable benefits for moms as well. Extended breastfeeding is connected to lower risks of cancer in women, especially breast and ovarian cancer. While breastfeeding, moms may not get their period for a year or more. Great news for moms who don’t want to go back to monthly cramps, PMS and bloating! It’s also a healthy way to keep your weight in check after pregnancy. Moms who breastfeed longer tend to lose more of their pregnancy weight.

Unfortunately, western society tends to stigmatize mothers who choose to nurse “older” children since such an emphasis is placed on independence and individuality in our culture. For toddlers, extended breastfeeding can be an important source of emotional support, as well as continued nutritional benefits and physical growth. Nevertheless, it is a perfectly natural and beneficial way to nourish your bond with your child. If you’re faced with criticism when you breastfeed, have a response ready. Whether it’s a witty joke, a surprising fact or simply ignoring the comments, make sure it reflects you and your personality.

What do you think about extended breastfeeding? What is the most important breastfeeding benefit to you and your little one? Share with us in the comments below!

51 thoughts on “Extended Breastfeeding: Nursing Beyond a Year

  1. I planned on extendedbreastfeeding before my daughter was born. She is 16months old and we are still going strong with no end in sight. My goa l is to bf heruntil shes 3.

  2. I am breastfeeding my 10 months old son and am planning to do so until he turns the adjusted age of 1 (he was 6 weeks early, but very healthy! No complications!) But after reading this article, I am thinking about keep breastfeeding longer than my initial plan :) Thank you for the great info!!!

  3. My baby girl is almost 18 months and we are really happy! No plans to stop nursing in the near future, maybe when she turns 2 but only if she decides to stop.

  4. So wonderful to read the positive of extended breasts feeding ! My sweet beauty is 2 years old & with a two separation from my husband & never spending one might away from my baby , I’ve had to research the facts on breast feeding bc he wants to start over nights & says I should be nursing any longer ! But it’s been such a blessing & she is so healthy , happy & SMART ! You can ask her what anything is pretty much & she will tell you ! Counts to 15 in English & 10 in Spanish , knows all her colors , shapes , ect & were working on alphabet ! It’s truly amazing & I do get alot of negativity on nursing her longer & it’s been hard in that aspect but thanks to the encouragement & research were going to keep on nursing bc it’s what’s best for her & I ! Plus thankfully God has blessed us so greatly that I’ve been able to give milk to friends babies when they were in need & the moms couldn’t make enough ! I’m a little sad bc tonight was the first night I tried to stop her from night nursing & she cried for hours & only bc the overnights is the only reason I even tried ! So feeling guilty & hurt for putting her through it when who cares ! She is only two & breast is best !

    • Hi Victoria, great job on 2 years! We believe in weaning whenever you + your little one are ready. It sounds like you’re enjoying the benefits and you have a happy, healthy little one – keep up the great work! -Kathy

  5. My daughter is 19 months and I’m still breastfeeding her. My plan was originally 6 months and then when I reached 6 months I thought I’ll just go for 1 year Lol. Well the year passed and I’m still breastfeeding. I love the bond me and my daughter have, I have also noticed she has only been sick once her whole 19 months. I do get friends who tell me that she is too old but I have my sisters support, she breastfed her daughter until she was 5, she always tells me that there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding past 1yr.

    • Keep up the great work! It can be tough to deal with others’ comments, but I’m happy to hear your sister is supportive. Even just one person makes a big difference. – Kathy

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