Extended breastfeeding is generally understood as nursing the toddler beyond the first year. The practice to feed the child, above 1 year of age, on breasts is absolutely normal and healthy. Extended nursing was a regular feature until the advent of baby food. In western countries, where the emphasis is on independence, the practice became uncommon with the times. So, if you’re breastfeeding and planning to wean your child, then don’t give up the practice unless you find it difficult to feed the child on your own milk. Long-term nursing has its own set of benefits; some of them are given below.
Benefits of Extended Breastfeeding
- Although the child now gets a large amount of his nutrition from solid food, breast milk still gives calories, important immunities, vitamins, and enzymes.
- As the child is becoming independent, breastfeeding can be a significant reason of assurance and emotional support. Breastfeeding for a prolonged period doesn’t make child clingy but helps to develop foster independence.
- Forceful weaning actually doesn’t make child confident, rather it would make him clingier.
- When the child is sick, breast milk is the only thing that can keep the illness down. Mother also feels better with the thought that she is helping her child to fight off the illness.
- Mothers, who travel a lot, can rely on breast’s milk to feed their child. Without any tension of buying milk from strange places, they can comfortably feed the child on their milk.
- At times, mothers, who feed their toddlers, don’t get their periods for one year; thereby, breastfeeding also partially averts the tension of dealing with cramps and bloating.
- Breastfeeding also provides protection to mothers against ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, endometrial cancer, and osteoporosis.
- Breastfeeding soothes and comforts the child, whenever he is tired, sick or hurt.
- The hormones prolactin and oxytocin released during breastfeeding help in relaxing the mother and encourage loving and nurturing behavior.
How to Go About Extended Nursing
Let things work at their own pace and don’t wean the child abruptly. Till the time, you and your child are comfortable with breastfeeding, don’t quit the practice. The time of weaning varies from child to child. Usually when the child is allowed to nurse as long as he wants, it has been seen that natural weaning happens between 3-4 years of age. There is no harm in extended breastfeeding and it is just a human norm. We all know that mother’s milk is the best food for an infant, then why do people start giving stares when a mother feeds her one year old child. It is the major problem that arises with extended nursing, but don’t worry and deal the problem readily keeping the given points in mind.
- People usually give strange, rude comments when a mother nurses her older child. For this, simply avoid breastfeeding in public.
- To avoid any embarrassing situation, make your child learn some different word for breasts so that other people don’t understand.
- Distract child’s interest to other things, foods, games, etc, because children even get dependent on breast milk. With growing age, they need other supplements too.
- Before moving out of the house, try to feed your child so that he doesn’t ask for milk outside.