A baby about to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding: How long should I do it?

Like so many questions about Baby, the answer depends on what’s right for you and your family.

How long should you breastfeed your baby?

Whether you’re staying home with Baby or going back to work at the end of your maternity leave, the length of the leave, and whether you’re comfortable pumping and storing milk for later when you’re at work are all factors which may influence your decision. Here are a few others:

  • The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that in order for 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 Baby 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 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 the doctor to make sure Baby is getting the right nutrition, and to do what works the best for your family. After all, no one knows Baby 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/. 

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