Toddler Breastfeeding

Nursing past your baby’s first birthday is known as extended breastfeeding. In many countries, it’s considered normal, healthy, and common. However, some people and certain cultures frown upon the practice. The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and then continued breastfeeding combined with solid foods for 12-24 months or as long as mother and baby desire.

What are the benefits of extended breastfeeding?
Every baby is different, and not all babies wean at the same time. According to The World Health Organisation, breastfeeding can provide up to 33 percent of the nutrition recommended for a 2-year-old. Extended-breastfed toddlers have decreased incidents of allergies and illness. Moms who nurse their toddlers can rest assured they are still providing their child comfort and nutrition. Toddlers who are teething or are picky eaters will get what they need from continued breastfeeding. In addition, moms of nursing toddlers benefit from a reduced risk of several illnesses and diseases.

What are the disadvantages of extended breastfeeding?
Despite the benefits of extended breasfeeding, some mothers find that prolonged nursing has some disadvantages, including limitations on her schedule and lifestyle, a baby’s dependence on the breast, pain from first teeth, critical public opinion and effects on the menstrual cycle. For these and other reasons, some mothers might choose to wean their babies after a certain amount of time.

How do I wean my toddler from the breast?

  • Try to relax. If you feel uptight and nervous about limiting your breastfeeding sessions, your child might sense that something has changed and will become stressed, leading them to want to nurse for comfort. Be calm and relaxed throughout the process.
  • Start by setting limits. You can start by setting limits on where and when you breastfeed. Tell your child, “We only breastfeed in this chair at nap time and bedtime,” or “We only breastfeed when it’s dark outside.”
  • Keep snacks handy. Provide toddler-friendly snacks as much as possible throughout the weaning process to sate your child’s appetite and to keep them from wanting to put something in their mouth. When your toddler has easy access to snacks, they will become less likely to come to you for milk.
  • Keep busy. Plan as many fun and interactive activities as possible for your child throughout the day to keep them occupied and help them forget about your breasts. They can be as simple as playing with modeling clay, drawing with sidewalk chalk, or making snacks.
  • Keep trying. If your first attempt to wean your toddler doesn’t work out, try not to beat yourself up. Every child has different physiological and emotional needs, so if weaning doesn’t work immediately, keep persevering. Listen to your child’s needs while gently transitioning them to a non-nursing lifestyle.

Disclaimer: Breastfeeding is best for babies. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months. PURITY fully supports this with continued breastfeeding, along with the introduction of complementary food as advised by healthcare professionals.