Considering Extended Breastfeeding?
Some mothers and their babies enjoy breastfeeding so much that they continue long after most have stopped. If both you and your child are happy to keep breastfeeding, then there is no reason not to continue. You may even both cherish the breastfeeding bond so much that you breastfeed until the child starts school!
However, it has to be said that the majority of breastfeeding mothers stop breastfeeding long before this...
You will most likely discover that other people find extended breastfeeding (ie when you decide to breastfeed an older child) less acceptable than breastfeeding a little baby. And you will probably have to be very discreet - or resort to breastfeeding in private. Unfortunately, our society still tend to view breasts as purely sexual and many are offended by the sight of older children breastfeeding.
Although the World Health Organisation recommends continuing breastfeeding for at least two years, beyond this age breastfeeding is likely to be more of a comfortable habit for both you and your toddler.
Older children have their own developed immune responses; they do not necessarily require the immune-boosting benefits breastmilk offers in the same way that small babies do.
However, they may just prefer the taste of breastmilk and the tenderness that extended breastfeeding offers. After all, it is a guaranteed way to get a cuddle with their mother! And mom gets to enjoy a cuddle with her rapidly growing child too.
Deciding when to stop breastfeeding is a personal decision for each mother and her child. Until then, your decision to extend breastfeeding beyond baby and toddler-hood should be respected and even applauded!
As with breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding should be an individual choice for each mother and child.
Dr Jack Newman:
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