Like so many questions about your little one, the answer really depends on what’s right for you and your family. Whether you’re staying home with your baby or going back to work at the end of your maternity leave, details like the length of your leave and whether you’re comfortable pumping milk at work are factors that may influence your decision. Here are a few others:
- The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that in order for your baby to get the most health benefits from your breast milk, they should be nourished exclusively through breastfeeding for the first six months of their life.
- After the first six months, both organizations recommend starting to introduce solid foods, but as a supplement to breast milk, not a replacement.
- General medical opinion says that while exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months is ideal, you should continue to feed your little one both solid food and breast milk for as long as the combination is right for both of you.
- Some studies suggest that longer-term breastfeeding could provide a certain amount of protection for you as well, against breast cancer.
- And remember, if for whatever reason you aren’t able to continue breastfeeding for as long as these recommendations suggest, any amount of time spent breastfeeding has a positive impact on your baby’s health and immune system!
When it comes down to it, the most important things to do when trying to figure out how long to breastfeed are to check with your child’s healthcare provider to make sure that they’re getting the right nutrition and to do what works best for your family. After all, no one knows your little one as well as you do!
“AAP Reaffirms Breastfeeding Guidelines.” American Academy of Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics, February 27 2012. Retrieved October 25 2017. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/aap-reaffirms-breastfeeding-guidelines.aspx.
“Making the decision to breastfeed.” WomensHealth.gov. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, January 23 2017. Retrieved October 25 2017. https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/making-decision-breastfeed.
“Sore or cracked nipples when breastfeeding.” NHS choices. UK.GOV, January 29 2016. Retrieved October 25 2017. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/sore-cracked-nipples-breastfeeding.aspx.
“Up to what age can a baby stay well-nourished just by breastfeeding?” World Health Organization. World Health Organization, July 2015. Retrieved October 25 2017. http://www.who.int/features/qa/21/en/.