The Benefits Of Breastfeeding Don't End At Two!
Breast Feeding Mama Talk Staff
The benefits of breastfeeding past age two continue to be the topic of much debate. From all the forums and other sources I’ve read, there are two common reasons why most moms stop breastfeeding around the one-year mark.
1- By this time most babies have started eating solids and many have also been introduced to cow’s milk so it is assumed that they are getting all the nutrition they need and do not need breast milk anymore. This is in fact not true at all but the second reason is even more disturbing.
2- Many mothers who would love to continue breastfeeding past age two stop prematurely simply because of societal pressure. Try nursing your baby beyond one year and you are sure to come across lots of well-meaning but misinformed relatives, friends and neighbors who will tell you directly or indirectly that it is about time you stopped. Ask them why and you will get a wide range of ridiculous reasons that have absolutely no basis at all.
I’ve read through hundreds of studies, statistics and reports on breastfeeding and it is plain to see that babies who are breastfed beyond the age of two enjoy a wealth of benefits that prematurely weaned babies do not have.
All of the benefits mentioned below are based on scientific fact after years spent studying the progress of babies weaned at different ages.
Two-Year Olds Get A Much-Needed Nutritional Boost
Solid foods may be the primary source of nutrition for your toddler but as we all know most toddlers are picky eaters. Extended nursing provides a vital nutritional boost to your toddler’s diet as they continue to get the essential vitamins and nutrients that breast milk contains.
Better Immunity & Improved Health
There’s overwhelming proof that breastfed children are healthier overall. Breast milk contains numerous beneficial antibodies and hormones that help strengthen a toddler’s still under-developed immune system. The longer babies are breastfed, the better their immunity, which means additional protection not just from typical childhood illnesses such as colds, ear infections and the flu but also from asthma and allergies. As long as you are nursing, your baby will continue to get the immunological benefits.
Did you know that the composition of breast milk continues to change as your baby grows older? I have to admit I did not know this before and it simply blew me away. The composition of the milk automatically adjusts to meet a growing child’s changing nutritional needs. This means that contrary to the traditional way of thinking, there is no fixed age at which breast milk becomes nutritionally redundant for a child. In fact it continues to remain the perfect food no matter how old your child is. Can there be a better reason for continuing to breastfeed past the age of two?
Actually there are. And it’s not just one or two more reasons. There are several. Here are just a few more of the many benefits of extended nursing:
- Provides security, closeness and comfort during a period when rapid changes are taking place.
- Provides comfort during particularly stressful moments such as before and after surgery or any other medical surgery.
- Protects against dehydration especially when a toddler is sick and refuses to eat or drink.
- Enhances cognitive development.
- Lowers the risk of obesity.
- Allows the child to wean at their own pace so there is less distress.
Last but certainly not least, it ensures quality snuggling and bonding time between you and your baby.
The only downside that I can see is that you are sure to elicit a few stares and barbs as you continue to breastfeed your toddler but considering the numerous proven benefits, is it even worth worrying about what others think?