How Long Do You Breastfeed Your Baby?

How Long Do You Breastfeed Your Baby?

Today I’m here to talk breast feeding. How long one breast feeds their child to be specific. Is there a certain age that is ideal to stop breast feeding your child? How long does the average mother breast feed their child? What is best for you? Let’s talk!

breastfeeding

The American Pediatric Association defines extended nursing as breastfeeding infants beyond their first year. In the United States, only 17 percent of new moms nurse their newborn for a full year. When I read that information, I was shocked. I thought it would be much higher. The practice of extended nursing sparks heated controversy because some disagree about when it is no longer appropriate to breastfeed children. Some parenting experts argue that if you breastfeed your children too long, it will stunt their child development. The American Academy of Pediatrics, however, supports mothers who want to nurse as long as necessary and say that it causes no damage whatsoever.

Most experts can agree on one thing though- that your baby needs nutrients from breast milk until they are at least 12 months old. If you choose to stop breast feeding your child  before that time, they will need to be fed bottled formula. After the 12 month mark, the choice is yours. So what is YOUR choice and why?

I think one of the most important things to consider is what is right for you and your child and to take your cues from them. Some children may be early to wean themselves. Some babies are more interested in solid food than others, and they simply start nursing less and less until it stops completely. Other children, my son included, don’t want to give up nursing, and I’m fine with that.  As your child gets older, breast feeding may only take place in the morning and right before bed. That may go on for some time until  your child gives it up completely.

La Leche League says: “A mother and her  baby should breastfeed for as long as they wish to breastfeed.” And I couldn’t agree more. There is no set number of years you should nurse your baby. If you and your child enjoy breastfeeding, there is no reason you need to stop. Both of you will continue to benefit from breastfeeding as long as you like. Many mothers choose to wean naturally, allowing the child to outgrow the need to nurse on their own time.

One thing worth mentioning, is the importance of supporting breast feeding moms in ALL circumstances. Of course it is vital that we all support new moms as they take on the challenge of breastfeeding but it is also equally important that we support moms who are nursing their toddlers. As a mother who is still nursing my almost two year old, I have come under criticism from even my friends. They’ve told me it was weird that I am still breastfeeding my son and that I should stop. I was so surprised at this type of behavior and disappointed that people react like this. Despite negative feedback, I have also gotten an outpour of positive comments and I am so very proud of myself for still breastfeeding my son.

Breastfeeding should ALWAYS be encouraged, never looked down upon. Your attitude and comments can make a world of difference to a breastfeeding mother. The most important thing is that you do what is best for you and your child, whatever that may be!

Are you a breastfeeding mom? How long did you breastfeed your baby? We would love to hear from you!

 

27 COMMENTS

  1. I’m still breastfeeding my 14 mo old son and we enjoy it, I don’t think he’ll stop anytime soon unless I get pregnant again and that might change things! We’ll just see what happens though, I’m not going to try an wean him intentionally. He’s recently started sleeping through the night so I’m happy with that! I was afraid I was going to have to wean him to get him to stop night nursing, but I was able to do it with the Dr. Jay Gordon method so now that we only nurse in the morning, and night and for nap time I enjoy it and we can just keep going. My mom thinks I should stop, but no one else really gives me a hard time about it. I think my mom just feels guilty for not nursing me longer…not that I’m judging her…it just didn’t work for her when I was a baby. We are all different!

  2. I breastfed my daughter for exactly 22 months. I stopped bc my OB advised I stop prior to becoming pregnant with #2. I was doing baby led weaning. I was shocked that it only took my daughter one day to be done nursing. I told her I had “an owie” and placed band aids on both nipples. She was so empathetic and sweet she simply said ok and took a bottle or cup of milk from then on!

  3. I wasn’t able to get our first son to latch properly, so i pumped and feed him for 3 months, then we found out we were expecting DS #2, and my milk supply decreased and I couldn’t keep up with his demand so we switched to formula. I am still breastfeeding my second son who is 20 months old, he is a very picky eater and likes to nurse a lot, but I am trying to wean him since i am 16 weeks pregnant!

  4. Had planned at least 18 months, entertained idea of two years with #1, but after 2nd infection/antibiotics, he self weaned @ 16 months.

    #2 just turned 9 months and I’ll let her self wean, too, but at least one year especially since she refuses bottle completely while I’m @ work 3 days/week and catches up the other 4 days & at nights. Somehow she still manages to be in 95% for weight while DS who took much more regularly was closer to 90%. Go figure!

  5. DS is 10mos tomorrow. I always thought I’d breastfeed for the first year and be done. Little did I know how much this experience would change me. This is my first child, I never realized that they’re still so little at one. I will continue to BF until he self weans….I think,lol. I do agree with the statement that more support is needed for long-term breastfeeding. I was at a get together when DS was 6mos and other moms were surprised I was still nursing. They were supportive, but surprised. I know everyone has opinions, and that’s all they are, opinions. Motherhood has taught me to never judge anyone for their parenting choices. We all have to do what’s best for our own families, it would be nice to do so with less judgment and more support!

  6. I exclusively breastfed my son till he was 6 months old, pumped at 7 months when I went back to work ( bfing when I was home). He wouldnt take a bottle after 1 year or drink breastmilk in a cup after @ 1year old so I stopped pumping. But he was breastfed till he was 2.5. Now at 3 he still asks for it but I weaned because my husband wanted me to stop at 1 year and I went past my goal of 2 years. He asked to nurse last night.. but I say he that they have ouchies. He says he really likes to nurse and I think he misses it 🙁

  7. My first nurses until she was about ten months old at which point my supply dried up. I was disappointed to stop, but was three months pregnant so there was not much I could do to try boosting my supply. A few weeks after my supply dried up we had our first routine ultrasound and found out we were expecting twins!!! No wonder my supply dried up!!! Our twins were born at 39 weeks and both latched on immediately in the recovery room. They nursed (refused bottles of any kind!) until 15 months. We tandem fed right from the start, and I would highly recommend tandem feeding to any twin mom.

  8. My son is 16 months and we are still nursing strong. I will allow him to self wean. I have been supported every step of the way and love our bond and what I am providing for my babe. Plus the milk is a wonder drug for a lot of ailments. Love it!

  9. I breastfed 21 months with my first, and I’m almost 6 months in with my second. I never planned on nursing for that long with my first, but it was so natural and comfortable for us. I’m glad I weaned when I did, because I found out I was pregnant a week later!

  10. I breastfed my son for 45 months (3 years and 9 months). I let him self wean when he was ready and that was when he chose. I absolutely loved the bonding time we shared and would do it all over again if I could.

  11. With my first, he weaned himself at almost 11 months. With my second, we are still going strong at 16 months. I have been amazed to see the difference of breastfeeding two children. One has always loved it and gotten comfort from it and the other never seemed interested in it and self weaned before a year.

  12. #1 & #2 Twins who nursed for 13 months and self-weaned. We supplemented very little with formula for the first week (nurses gave it to the one in the NICU before I could intervene and bring pumped milk) and then again for their afternoon feedings when we were out and about after they were about 9 or 10 months or so.
    #3 Nursed until 9 months when I finally gave up the fight and gave her bottles (which she didn’t really take either). Long story, but it entailed heavy letdown, silent reflux, lots of hours of screaming/crying (from both of us), a couple of really strong personalities, sore nipples, two different breast infections, thrush, hormone changes causing decreased milk supply through the month, incorrect latch, etc.
    #4 We are at 4 months and going strong. Hopefully she will continue to nurse well after her first birthday. I have learned SO much more about nursing positions, hormone changes, etc. It has completely changed the way I nurse this time and has made it a much better experience than #3. Not sure why I didn’t have the same issues with the twins. Maybe it was being on a schedule or just that they emptied all the milk every time they nursed? 🙂

  13. I have been nursing my son since he was born, he is 22 1/2 months old now. My goal was to at least nurse him until he was a year as I didn’t want to have to give him formula if I didn’t have to. I am happy I was able to do this. When I had to return to work I pumped during the day. I do get some negative feedback now that I am still nursing. Friends and even my mom say my son is getting too old to be nursed. He currently only nurses in the morning and evening. I would like to let him nurse until he self weans. I wish more people would accept other moms decisions with nursing. It makes me uncomfortable nursing when people make these comments. But it’s my and my sons decision and it’s what’s best “health wise” for him. So I try not to let their comments get to me and choose to do it until he no longer wants it.

  14. I breastfeed my son until he was a year old. I am expecting my second any day now and hope to go longer. I gave into the peer pressure with my son, and wish I hadn’t. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 22 months old but began showing signs quickly after I weaned him. I know he would still have Crohns but if somehow extended breastfeeding could have helped his pain I would have continued.

  15. I’m still breastfeeding my 18+month-old son. He nurses in the morning and at night. I plan to let him decide when he wants to stop. My mother has voiced her negative opinion about it several times, and it makes me feel horrible.

  16. Both my daughters breastfed for 13.5 months. The goal with both was a year and it took about a month and a half to wean them… I would have gone longer with DD2 but I was pregnant and my supply tanked. I am aiming for the same with their baby sister due in May.

  17. I have 2 children, 5yo daughter and 16month old son. When I was pregnant with my daughter the thought of formula was never in my mind for some reason I was “supposed” to breastfeed her. I had a lot of problems that stemmed from not being prepared and because I had the mindset that this should be the most natural thing a women is able to do. I WAS WRONG! Got through it qndo had a wonderful 2 and a half year bf relationship. With my son, he’s still going and does have plans to stop. Both are picky eaters at this age so BFing is perfect to fill the gaps

  18. I am a breastfeeding mommy five months and going. I plan to do it at least for a year. After that whatever she (baby) is fine with me. I have enjoy every minute of it. Is my last baby so, I taking the time to enjoy my baby and myself in the process.

  19. Out of three kids:
    #1 for about three months, he was so hungry that I ended up giving him a bottle, but he was also so distracted he would break suction so often it hurt. I think if I had had more education I would have continued longer.
    #2 for 15 glorious months. I was a stay at home mom during this time and we weaned (her choice) when she started daycare, but it had been in progress for a while before. She never took a bottle, went straight to a cup.
    #3 for nine months. I would have gone longer, but it was tough working full time. I don’t pump well so it was duel bottles and boobs. I had to work late a few nights and he had enough after that. I was sad to see it end.
    I would happily do it again if I had more babies!

  20. I breastfed my first (now 31 months old) exclusively until 6 months, then along with solids to 1 year, she had breast milk mixed with cow’s milk from 12-18 months. She last took to my breast the day she was 15 months so I stopped pumping for her. I did have enough frozen to keep up the 50/50 bend till she was 18 months. I will say that I had an EXTREMELY supportive situation. The corporation I worked for allowed me 4 months leave (3 of which were paid) during which I established a great connection. When I returned to work full time I was able to work from home and had a nanny making it so easy to pump while I worked and reconnect at the end of the day.

    My second is now 11 weeks and I will be a stay at home mom due to our overseas placement with my husband’s job until he reached 8 months. I presume this will allow me to produce my steady supply even longer. I intend to follow the same program as with my daughter but will delay mixing with cow’s milk as long as possible.

    I have been extremely fortunate to have a high level of support. The hospital where I delivered my first had a team of lactation experts to help with my initial latching challenges; my husband helps out at home so I can focus on nursing the baby and my employer has been supportive of my needs through and through. Should I need to work in an office again when I return, they as policy have lactation rooms in ALL US offices and will accommodate my need to take pump breaks so long as it does not interfere with my work output.

  21. I nursed my first child for about 13 months, supplementing formula only when I had no breast milk stored. I nursed my second for one year, supplementing a lot of formula because I had no time whatsoever to pump. I had to stop at 9 months because I was seriously ill and had to take medication that was not safe for a nursing child. Now on #3 at 6 months and supplement rarely, only when I have no bm stored. Hoping to make it at least 12 months again. This time it’s also easier to pump than with my second because the older 2 occupy each other

  22. I nursed my son until he was a little over 2 yrs old. He self weaned at that time because I was pregnant with my daughter. I plan to nurse her until she is ready to self wean as well.

  23. My son is 10 months old this week. He’s been great at nursing up until recently. He has no interest in he breast. My supply is tanking due to this and we’ve had to resort to formula. I’m trying fenugreek and pumping sessions to salvage he ability to breast feed until he’s 1. I just don’t know if we’ll make it.

  24. Breastfeed both my girls till they were about a year old. I think they both kind of weaned themsleves. I certainly don’t remember not nursing them if they wanted too, but I do remember that they became to busy and interested in everything going on around them to nurse. That is just what worked for us.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.