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How Long Should You Breastfeed?

Anne Cavicchi


Unfortunately, how long a mother should nurse her baby does not have an easy answer. Advice given by people, whether it's doctors, a breastfeeding counselor or your mother, it is confusing and contradictory. Everyone you talk to has different advice for you. Combine this with the fact that every mom & baby are different, and you have good reason to be wondering what is the best thing to do.

Breastfeeding is by far the best way to feed your baby. Even many manufacturers of baby formula are saying this! Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby's development for the first year or more. It contains antibodies which may protect your baby against some infections. Breastfeeding also helps reduce the risk of allergies in infants who have a family history of asthma, food allergy, or eczema. It is easily digested and contains just the right amount of fat, protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. It is inexpensive and require no special equipment or preparation. Breastmilk changes as your baby grows and is the only food needed for the first 4 to 6 months.

So does that mean you should only breastfeed for the first 4 to 6 months and then stop? Wean your baby at one year? Yes? No? Maybe?

There are so many factors involved along with so many pressures from others. Some will pressure you to breastfeed into the second year and beyond. Others will argue that your baby should be weaned to a bottle after a couple of months. Some will say you have to wean before you return to work. Others will tell you that going back to work doesn't mean you have to wean. Who's right?

Most proponents of breastfeeding and many of the experts recommend breastfeeding for the first year or longer. While I totally agree with this in principle, I say you should breastfeed for as long as you feel it is the best thing for you and your baby. This is something only you can decide.

Anne Cavicchi is a married working mother with one son and two stepdaughters. She enjoys spending time together with her family, golfing, photography and offering advice and support for new Moms and Dads.

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Jill Dec 11, 2011 04:57:40 AM ET

World Health Organization and AAP recommend breastfeeding for 2 years and beyond. I go with that and wean around 3 years as long as I and baby both want to. Closest to nature and the majority of the world's pop.

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