5 Benefits of Extended Breastfeeding
Before I became a mom, I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. I also thought that breastfeeding would likely end once my baby turned one. Isn’t that what most people do? They don’t “technically” need breastmilk beyond a year so most people stop? Or so I thought. And I know most moms are happy to give it up at that point because maybe it wasn’t the easiest road to get there. But for us, I didn’t see a reason to stop. It continued to have a lot of benefits in our family so I’ve continued to do it. The WHO actually recommends breastfeeding until 2 years of age. So that is my new goal, to continue until our little guy is 2 years old and then reassess at that point. While we have seen many benefits from breastfeeding beyond a year, I thought I would compile some of them in a list including other ones I was surprised to find out as well.
Here are 5 benefits of extended breastfeeding:
1. Part of a bedtime routine. I put this at the top of the list because this is really the reason I have continued. It’s been part of our bedtime routine and it helps my son go to sleep. It provides comfort before he goes to bed and makes getting him to bed a lot easier! This has been extremely beneficial when we’re staying overnight in a different place that’s not familiar to him.
2. Provides comfort. There’s been a few times he’s been sick, teething, tired and he just wants to nurse. It calms him down. And boy I am really happy that I have this tool at my disposal still. Particularly when you have a sick toddler, being able to comfort them when they wake up in the middle of the night, or before a nap is a huge benefit.
3. It boosts their immune system. Since starting daycare, our little guy has only gotten sick twice. Twice in five months is pretty good. I had heard horror stories of other moms with their toddlers constantly getting sick. Granted he is in a home daycare, but the home daycare has regular school kids which I’m sure carry just as many germs. Breastmilk beyond one year continues to carry antibodies that will help fight illnesses. Kelly Mom states “Breastfeeding toddlers between the ages of one and three have been found to have fewer illnesses, illnesses of shorter duration, and lower mortality rates”
4. It contributes to your child’s intellectual development. A study done in Brazil found that children breastfed for 12 months or longer had a higher IQ (about 3.7 points), more years of education and earned roughly 20% more than the average income level. One hypothesis on why this may be is because breastmilk is rich in good fats which are essential for brain growth and development.
5. Longer duration of breastfeeding can help reduce health risks for the mom. Extended breastfeeding can help reduce risk of breast, ovarian, uterine and endometrial cancer in mom.
What are some reasons you have decided to extended breastfeed?