Extended breastfeeding is often the subject of heated debates. For example, remember the Time magazine cover showing a mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old? The story rapidly became viral, as people were calling the image shocking and abnormal. Yet, the World Health Organization recommends to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months and then for 2 years or longer. Here are 5 reasons why nursing beyond one year is beneficial.
1. Provides a healthy diet. It was reported by the American Academy of Pediatrics that human milk continues to be a valuable source of nutrients in the second year of breastfeeding. In fact, the nutritional value in breast milk actually increases as your child’s matures. The Level of protein, fat and calories changes, as the toddler’s needs evolve.
2. Develops intellectual capacities. Breastfeeding for longer could make your baby smarter! Breast milk stimulates brain development and it was observed that infants who are nursed for an extended period of time tend to have higher IQs and perform better in school.
3. Prevents illnesses and infections. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that babies who are breastfed for at least 2 years are less likely to suffer from childhood illness. Breast milk contains antibodies that protects your child from a wide range of diseases and infections.
4. Lets the child stop nursing when ready. Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding an infant for more than a year will not make him clingy. In reality, the opposite is more likely to be true; toddler’s who are breastfed the longest become more independent. Extended nursing gives your child a source of comfort and emotional support for as long as he needs it.
5. Lowers risks of cancer in the mother. Many studies have shown that breastfeeding reduces the likelihood of getting cancer. Lactating for more than half a year was shown to significantly decrease risk of being diagnosed with breast, endometrial or ovarian cancer.
In brief, extended breastfeeding should not be a controversial topic, since its beneficial for mothers and their toddlers. It provides children with essential nutritional elements, that allows them to grow healthy physically, mentally and emotionally.