Breastfeeding older children is viewed by many cultures as a logical
continuation of breastfeeding a baby. Some nations breastfeed their babies for
as long as 6-7 years.
In fact, many researches show that breastfeeding for at least 2.5 years is
the most beneficial. This is what many refer to as “extended breastfeeding”.
In North America any breastfeeding beyond the minimum of one year recommended
by the American Academy of Pediatrics is referred to as “extended”.
Breastfeeding toddlers and older kids is frowned upon by many people. In
fact, many women stop breastfeeding because of negative comments from outsiders
and pressure within the family. Here are other reasons why most women wean.
Nursing satisfies baby’s natural need for sucking. So why doesn’t a toddler
with a bottle trigger as many discussions and reprimands as a breastfed
Myths of Extended Breastfeeding
Decision when to wean should rest in the breastfeeding couple’s hands. But
in case you doubt your choice, here is what breastfeeding older children does NOT
* It doesn’t make them dependent or spoiled. If anything, having his/her mom’s
reassurance, approval and support in the form of breastfeeding at all times
creates positive atmosphere for the little explorer.
Breastfed toddlers grow to
be more independent, do not suffer from detachment discomfort, start
relationships easier and are more confident. They are also easier to discipline.
* It doesn’t cause cavities. Even breastfeeding a baby to sleep will cause
less or none tooth decay compared to bottle-feeding.
is different. It pulls the milk in deep to the back of the mouth and throat.
Bottle-sucking lets the food settle in the mouth and pool around the teeth.
In addition, breast milk composition and protein build-up is safer for teeth
and gums than the formula.
Breastfeeding Toddler Extras
Here is what extended breastfeeding DOES:
Promotes normal jaw and facial muscle development and correct palate
structure. This ensures enough space for coming teeth and lays the ground for correct food chewing.
Ensures correct breathing. Bottle-fed babies breathe through their mouths,
breastfed babies breathe through their noses.
Most of the human brain and intellect development happens during the first three years of
life. Breastfeeding during this period creates a positive atmosphere and stimulation
for brain development.
Human milk changes to adapt to the needs of a growing baby. It “grows” with
your baby and provides the right type of antibodies and nutrients for any given
Remember: Breast milk doesn't lose its nutritional value as your baby grows. It always provides vitamins and minerals needed at every developmental stage.
Breast milk boosts your baby’s immunity, which is especially important when
he/she starts exploring the world around.
When you start introducing solids, breastfeeding softens their effect on
baby’s immature digestive system. Extended breastfeeding postpones the onset of
allergic reactions to new foods. Since most allergies are outgrown by the age
of 3, by breastfeeding your baby for as long as possible you lower the risk of
any allergic reaction altogether.
Nursing helps a child through a sickness. It has a soothing effect. In
addition, if your child refuses all the other foods because of the sickness,
he/she will still get nutrition through your breast milk.
Breastfeeding assists with putting your baby to sleep at nap times and for
Nursing stays a perfect way to calm down and console an upset or frustrated child.
Nursing helps older children cope with the stress caused by some life-changing
events, like changing day care centers or moving.
If you are expecting another baby keeping on breastfeeding older children through pregnancy
(with your doctor’s approval) and tandem nursing after the delivery,
tremendously helps your older child to adjust to the new situation. If you quit
breastfeeding shortly before the new baby, your older child is likely to get
jealous every time you nurse your baby.