Skip Nav
The Actual Reason Children Are 800% Worse When Their Mothers Are in the Room
Kid Shopping
The Verdict's In — These Are the 10 Most Popular Disney Princess Toys on Amazon
10 Essentials Every Mom Should Keep in Her Purse

Breastfeeding Beyond Age Two: Moms Share the Four Benefits of Extended Nursing

Breastfeeding Beyond Age Two: Moms Share the Four Benefits of Extended Nursing

Like many breastfeeding topics, sustained or extended breastfeeding (defined here as beyond the age of two) is frequently debated on Circle of Moms. The World Heath Organization recommends breastfeeding with complementary foods until two years of age or beyond, and the AAP's stance is that babies should be breastfed for the first year or longer, and breastfed exclusively for the first six months. But if you're considering the question of when and how to wean a child who's nearing or over two, what really matters is what will work best for you and your family.

To help you, here's a round-up of the extended breastfeeding benefits most often cited by our members. (Check back soon for a round-up of the cons.)

1. Comfort and Security

Providing comfort is one of the fundamental reasons many moms continue to nurse beyond age two. The toddler years are full of frustrations and overstimulation, and nursing can be calming and reassuring. As Missouri mother Jessica B. shares, breastfeeding a toddler continues to offer a special bonding experience for mother and child: "We are so comfy and snuggled together... it's a really nice bonding time for mother and child."


2. Letting the Child Decide When to Wean

While many moms certainly enjoy the bonding time that breastfeeding offers, Circle of Moms members who have chosen to breastfeed beyond age two emphasize that they breastfeed for the child's sake, not their own. Liz B., who is breastfeeding a two-year old, explains: "I don't feed her for my own benefit. In fact, I am over it. But, my little girl likes the closeness and the time out for her. I think we can rush our children too much with things. I'm trying to be easygoing with her, and she will stop when she is ready." Like Liz B., moms who breastfeed into the toddler years often decide to let their child self-wean. Karen T. shares: "I'm currently nursing my 23-month-old and will continue to do so until she's ready to stop...I believe it's best to allow the child to make this choice on his/her own."

3. Stronger Immune System

Toddlers are major germ magnets, touching and tasting everything in sight. While experts tend to agree that the most significant health benefits from breast milk occur during in the child's first year, many moms still credit the antibodies in breast milk with helping to combat infections and decrease the severity of illnesses during the toddler years. Celeste C. shares: "While my twin boys did get sick, I credit breastfeeding for the shorter duration (i.e., one of them got RSV and he was only sick for a few days)." Similarly, Mel R., a mother of 3 in Coventry, shared: "My son has only ever been poorly once, and that was only a cold. He never needs the doctor, and he is in the 97th percentile for both his height and weight."

4. Nutritional Boost

While solid foods are usually toddlers' primary source of nutrition, many breastfeeding moms feel that breast milk offers an important nutritional boost to a child's diet, especially since toddlers are notoriously picky eaters. As Cindy M., a mother of one, explains, "My son doesn't always want to eat a lot of table food or enough of the right foods. Continuing to nurse helps me feel confident that he's still getting good nutrition, even on days that he doesn't feel like eating all his veggies or chicken."

Looking for more information on breastfeeding and alternatives?

Whether you're looking for information on pumping, bottles, or introducing cow's milk, Circle of Moms is a great resource. You can ask for advice in communities focused on breastfeeding or formula, or respectfully debate topics with other moms in communities like Debating Mums and Parenting Debates & Hot Topics.

Image Source: Various Brennemans via Flickr/Creative Commons

Join The Conversation
JennaKing26603 JennaKing26603 5 years
To each his own. I'm not convinced that prolonged breastfeeding makes for a more secure child, a stronger immune system or gives them a nutritional boost. My kids were all bottle fed after four months because I had such a hard time, physically and emotionally with bf that I was a complete monster. They have all been very healthy, are not super picky eaters (all kids are picky to some degree), and have been very early developmentally with everything. My SIL breastfed all her kids to the age of 2, some longer, but at least 2, and every time I talk to her they are sick. So while I believe that breast is best and provides nutrition that formula doesn't, I also believe that formula is here for a reason--for moms like me who would be sent to the loony bin if we continued to breastfeed. Having a present, sane mom for my kids was more important to me than how they were fed. And they are not worse for it either.
sagibug sagibug 5 years
Ok, that posted terribly!
sagibug sagibug 5 years
One: when a child past age one is being breastfed, it is not their main source of nutrition, so it's not like a 3 year old is attached to mom's breast all day. Many times, it's only once or twice a day. Two: For those that said there is no scientific evidence of the benefits: References: Nutritional Benefits See also Breastmilk Composition Ahn CH, MacLean WC Jr. Growth of the exclusively breast-fed infant. Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 Feb;33(2):183-92. Briend A, Wojtyniak B and Rowland MG. Breast feeding, nutritional state, and child survival in rural Bangladesh. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1988 Mar 26;296(6626):879-82. Casey CE, Neville MC, Hambidge KM. Studies in human lactation: secretion of zinc, copper, and manganese in human milk. Am J Clin Nutr 1989 May;49(5):773-85. Dewey KG, Finley DA, Lonnerdal B. Breast milk volume and composition during late lactation (7-20 months). J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1984 Nov;3(5):713-20. Dewey KG. Nutrition, Growth, and Complementary Feeding of the Breastfed Infant. Pediatric Clinics of North American. February 2001;48(1). Grummer-Strawn LM. Does prolonged breast-feeding impair child growth? A critical review. Pediatrics. 1993;91:766-771. Hamosh M, Dewey, Garza C, et al: Nutrition During Lactation. Institute of Medicine, Washington, DC, National Academy Press, 1991. Jelliffe DB and Jelliffe EF. The volume and composition of human milk in poorly nourished communities. A review. Am J Clin Nutr. 1978 Mar;31(3):492-515. Karra MV, Udipi SA, Kirksey A, and Roepke JL. Changes in specific nutrients in breast milk during extended lactation. Am J Clin Nutr. 1986; 43: 495-503. Mandel D, Lubetzky R, Dollberg S, Barak S, Mimouni FB. Fat and Energy Contents of Expressed Human Breast Milk in Prolonged Lactation. Pediatrics. 2005 Sept; 116(3):e432-e435. Onyango, Adelheid W., Receveur, Olivier and Esrey, Steven A. PDF The contribution of breast milk to toddler diets in western Kenya. Bull World Health Organ, 2002, vol.80 no.4. ISSN 0042-9686. Persson V, Greiner T, Islam S, and Gebre-Medhin M. The Helen Keller international food-frequency method underestimates vitamin A intake where sustained breastfeeding is common. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, vol.19 no.4. Tokyo, Japan: United Nations University Press, 1998. Rohde JE. Breastfeeding beyond twelve months. Lancet. 1988 Oct 29;2(8618):1016. Shattock FM, Stephens AJ. Letter: Duration of breast-feeding. Lancet. 1975 Jan 11;1(7898):113-4. Tangermann RH, et al. Breastfeeding beyond twelve months. Lancet. 1988 Oct 29;2(8618):1016. Underwood BA. Weaning practices in deprived environments: the weaning dilemma. Pediatrics. 1985 Jan;75(1 Pt 2):194-8. UNICEF/Wellstart: Promoting Breastfeeding in Health Facilities: A short course for Administrators and Policy Makers; WHO/CDR 93.4. Victora CG, et al. Is prolonged breastfeeding associated with malnutrition? Am J Clin Nutr. 1984 Feb;39(2):307-14. Whitehead RG. The human weaning process. Pediatrics. 1985 Jan;75(1 Pt 2):189-93. [top] References: Immunological Benefits Immune factors in human milk @ kellymom Briend A, Wojtyniak B and Rowland MG. Breast feeding, nutritional state, and child survival in rural Bangladesh. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1988 Mar 26;296(6626):879-82. Goldman AS et al. Immunologic components in human milk during weaning. Acta Paediatr Scand. 1983 Jan;72(1):133-4. Goldman AS, Goldblum RM, Garza C. Immunologic components in human milk during the second year of lactation. Acta Paediatr Scand. 1983 May;72(3):461-2. Gulick EE. The effects of breastfeeding on toddler health. Pediatr Nurs. 1986 Jan-Feb;12(1):51-4. Hamosh M. Bioactive factors in human milk. Pediatr Clin North Am 2001 Feb;48(1):69-86. Hamosh M, Dewey, Garza C, et al: Nutrition During Lactation. Institute of Medicine, Washington, DC, National Academy Press, 1991, pp. 133-140. Lawrence R and Lawrence R. Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, 5th ed. St. Louis: Mosby, 1999, p. 159-195. See particularly Table 5-2 on p. 169: "Concentration of immunologic components in human milk collected during second year of lactation" Palti H, Mansbach I, Pridan H, Adler B, Palti Z. Episodes of illness in breast-fed and bottle-fed infants in Jerusalem. Isr J Med Sci 1984 May;20(5):395-9. [top] References: Allergies Halken S, Host A, Hansen LG, Osterballe O. Effect of an allergy prevention programme on incidence of atopic symptoms in infancy. A prospective study of 159 "high-risk" infants. Allergy 1992 Oct;47(5):545-53. Hanson LA, Korotkova M, Telemo E. Breast-feeding, infant formulas, and the immune system. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2003 Jun;90(6 Suppl 3):59-63. Marini A, Agosti M, Motta G, Mosca F. Effects of a dietary and environmental prevention programme on the incidence of allergic symptoms in high atopic risk infants: three years' followup. Acta P�diatr 1996;Suppl 414 vol 85:1-19. Saarinen UM, Kajosaari M. Breastfeeding as prophylaxis against atopic disease: prospective follow-up study until 17 years old. Lancet 1995;346:1065-69. Savilahti E, et al. Prolonged exclusive breast feeding and heredity as determinants in infantile atopy. Arch Dis Child. 1987 Mar;62(3):269-73. [top] References: Intelligence PDF Breastfeeding and Cognitive Function Bibliography by Marsha Walker,RN,IBCLC Anderson GJ, Connor WE, Corliss JD. Docosohexaenoic acid is the preferred dietary n-3 fatty acid for the development of the brain and retina. Pediatr Res 1990;27:87-97. Anderson JW. Breast-feeding and cognitive development: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 1999, Oct; 70(4): 525-35. Andraca I, Uauy R. Breastfeeding for optimal mental development. Simopoulos AP, Dutra de Oliveira JE, Desai ID (eds): Behavioral and Metabolic Aspects of Breastfeeding. World Rev Nutr Diet. Basel, Karger, 1995;78:1-27. Bauer G et al. Breastfeeding and cognitive development of three-year-old children. Psychological Reports 1991; 68:1218. Crawford MA. The role of essential fatty acids in neural development: implications for perinatal nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr 1993;57(suppl):703S-10S. Elwood PC, Pickering J, Gallacher JE, Hughes J, Davies D. Long term effect of breast feeding: cognitive function in the Caerphilly cohort. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2005 Feb;59(2):130-3. Florey C Du V, Leech AM, Blackhall A. Infant feeding and mental and motor development at 18 months of age in first born singletons. Int J Epidem 1995;24 (Suppl 1):S21-6. Gordon N. Nutrition and cognitive function. Brain and Development 1997;19:165-70. Greene LC, Lucas A, Livingstone BE, Harland PSEG, Baker BA. Relationship between early diet and subsequent cognitive performance during adolescence. Biochem Soc Trans 1995;23:376S. Horwood LJ, Darlow BA, Mogridge N. Breast milk feeding and cognitive ability at 7-8 years. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2001 Jan;84(1):F23-7. Horwood LJ, Fergusson DM. Breastfeeding and later cognitive and academic outcomes. Pediatrics. 1998 Jan;101(1):E9. Lucas A, Morley R, Cole TJ, Lister G, Leeson-Payne C. Breastmilk and subsequent intelligence quotient in children born preterm. Lancet 1992;339:261-4. Makrides M, Neumann MA, Byard RW, Simmer K, Gibson RA. Fatty acid composition of brain, retina and erythrocytes in breast and formula fed infants. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;60:189-94. Morley R, Cole TJ, Powell R, Lucas A. Mother's choice to provide breast milk and developmental outcome. Arch Dis Child. 1988 Nov;63(11):1382-5. Morrow-Tlucak M, Haude RH, Ernhart CB. Breastfeeding and cognitive development in the first 2 years of life. Soc Sci Med. 1988;26(6):635-9. Mortensen EL, Michaelsen KF, Sanders SA, Reinisch JM. The Association Between Duration of Breastfeeding and Adult Intelligence. JAMA. 2002;287:2365-2371. Nettleton JA. Are n-3 fatty acids essential nutrients for fetal and infant development. J Am Diet Assoc 1993;93:58-64. Neuringer M, Connor WE, Lin DS, Barstad L, Luck S. Biochemical and functional effects of prenatal and postnatal fatty acid deficiency on retina and brain in rhesus monkeys. Proc Natl Acad Sc USA 1986;83:4021-5. Niemelä A, Järvenpää AL.. Is breastfeeding beneficial and maternal smoking harmful to the cognitive development of children? Acta Paediatr. 1996 Oct;85(10):1202-6. Oddy WH, et al. Breast feeding and cognitive development in childhood: a prospective birth cohort study. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2003 Jan;17(1):81-90. Paine BJ, Makrides M, Gibson RA. Duration of breastfeeding and Bayley's mental developmental Index at 1 year of age. J Paediatr Child Health 1999;35:82-5. Pollock JI. Longterm associations with infant feeding in a clinically advantaged population of babies. Dev Med Child Neur 1994;36:429-40. Richards M, Hardy R, Wadsworth ME. Long-term effects of breast-feeding in a national birth cohort: educational attainment and midlife cognitive function. Public Health Nutr. 2002 Oct;5(5):631-5. Riva E, Agostoni C, Biasucci G, Trojan S, Luotti D, Fiori L, et al. Early breastfeeding is linked to higher intelligence quotient scores in dietary treated phenylketonuric children. Acta P�diatr 1996;85:56-8. Rodgers B. Feeding in infancy and later ability and attainment: a longitudinal study. Devel Med Child Neurol 1978;20:421-6. Rogan WJ, Gladen BC. Breastfeeding and cognitive development. Early Hum Dev 1993;31:181-93. Silver LB, Levinson RB, Laskin CR, Pilot LJ. Learning disabilities as a probable consequence of using chloride-deficient infant formula. J Pediatr 1989;115:97-9 Taylor B, Wadsworth J. Breastfeeding and child development at five years. Dev Med Child Neurol 1984;26:73-80. Temboury MC, Otero A, Polanco I, Arribas E. Influence of breastfeeding on the infant's intellectual development. J Pediatric Gastroenterol Nutr 1994;18:32-36. Wang YS, Wu SY. The effect of exclusive breastfeeding on development and incidence of infection in infants. JHL 1996;12:27-30. Willoughby A, Moss HA, Hubbard VS, Bercu BB, Graubard BI, Vietze PM, et al. Developmental outcome in children exposed to chloride deficient formula. Pediatrics 1987;79:851-7. Wing CS. Defective infant formulas and expressive language problems: a case study. Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools 1990;21:22-7. [top] References: Social Adjustment Baldwin, EN. Extended Breastfeeding and the Law. Mothering 1993 (Spring);66:88. Baumgartner C. Psychomotor and Social Development of Breast Fed and Bottle Fed babies During their First year of Life. Acta Paediatrica Hungarica, 1984. Ferguson DM et al. Breastfeeding and subsequent social adjustment in six- to eight-year-old children. J Child Psychol Psychiatr Allied Discip 1987; 28:378-86. Waletzky LR. Breastfeeding and weaning. Some psychological considerations. Prim Care. 1979 Jun;6(2):341-55. [top] References: Breastfeeding as the Norm American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics. Feb 2005;115(2): 496-50. The American Academy of Family Physicians. Position Paper on Breastfeeding. 2008. Dettwyler KA. A Natural Age of Weaning. Dettwyler KA."A Time to Wean" from Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives, 1995. Novello A, MD, US Surgeon General, "You Can Eat Healthy," Parade Magazine (11 Nov 1990): 5. World Health Organization. Global strategy on infant and young child feeding. 2003. World Health Organization. PDF Innocenti Declaration: World Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition. Rome, December 1992. [top] References: Mother's Fertility The Lactational Amenorrhea Method of birth control Badroui MHH, Hefnawi F. Ovarian function during lactation. In: Hafez ESE, ed. Human Ovulation. Amsterdam: Elsevier-North Holland Biomedical, 1979: 233-41. Diaz S, Aravena R, Cardenas H, Casado ME, Miranda P, Schiappacasse V, Croxatto HB. Contraceptive efficacy of lactational amenorrhea in urban Chilean women. Contraception. 1991 Apr;43(4):335-52. Diaz S, Peralta O, Juez G, Salvatierra AM, Casado ME, Duran E, Croxatto HB. Fertility regulation in nursing women: I. The probability of conception in full nursing women living in an urban setting. J Biosoc Sci. 1982 Jul;14(3):329-41. Elias,M.F. "Nursing Practices and Lactation Amenorrhoea." Journal of Biosco Sci, 1968. Kennedy KI, Visness CM. Contraceptive efficacy of lactational amenorrhoea. Lancet. 1992 Jan 25;339(8787):227-30. Lewis PR, Brown JB, Renfree MB, Short RV. The resumption of ovulation and menstruation in a well-nourished population of women breastfeeding for an extended period of time. Fertil Steril. 1991 Mar;55(3):529-36. Rolland R: Bibliography (with review) on contraceptive effects of breastfeeding. Biblio Reprod 1976;28:1-4, 93. Short RV, Lewis PR, Renfree MB, Shaw G. Contraceptive effects of extended lactational amenorrhoea: beyond the Bellagio Consensus. Lancet. 1991 Mar 23;337(8743):715-7. Simpson-Hebert M, Huffman SL. The contraceptive effect of breastfeeding. Stud Fam Plann 1981;12:125-33. Van Ginnekin JK. Prolonged breastfeeding as a birth spacing method. Stud Fam Plann 1974;5:201-6. [top] References: Less Ovarian Cancer Gwinn ML, Lee NC, Rhodes PH, Layde PM, Rubin GL. Pregnancy, breastfeeding and oral contraceptives and the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. J Clin Epidemiol 1990;43:559-68. Hartge P, Schiffman MH, Hoover R, McGowan L, Lesher L, Norris HJ. A case control study of epithelial ovarian cancer. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1989;161:10-6. Rosenblatt KA, Thomas DB, and the WHO collaborative study of neoplasia and steroid contraceptives. Lactation and the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. International J Epidemiol 1993;22:192-7. Schneider AP. Risk factor for ovarian cancer. N Engl J Med. 1987 Aug 20;317(8):508-9. [top] References: Less Uterine Cancer Brock KE et al. Sexual, reproductive and contraceptive risk factors for carcinoma-in-situ of the uterine cervix in Sydney. Med J Aust. 1989 Feb 6;150(3):125-30. [top] References: Less Endometrial Cancer Petterson B, Hans-Olov A, Berstr�m R, Johansson EDB. Menstruation span-a time-limited risk factor for endometrial carcinoma. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 1986;65:247-55. Rosenblatt KA, Thomas DB, and the WHO collaborative study of neoplasia and steroid contraceptives. Prolonged Lactation and endometrial cancer. Int J Epidemiol 1995;24:499-503. [top] References: Less Osteoporosis Osteoporosis: Reduced risk with nursing? by Debbi Donovan, IBCLC Osteoporosis by Kathryn Orlinsky, PhD See Calcium for more information and references. [top] References: Less Rheumatoid Arthritis Karlson EW, Mandl LA, Hankinson SE, Grodstein F. Do breast-feeding and other reproductive factors influence future risk of rheumatoid arthritis? Results from the Nurses' Health Study. Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Nov;50(11):3458-67. [top] References: Less Breast Cancer (breastfed as child) Barba M, et al. Premenopausal women who were heavier than average at birth or had not been breastfed as infants appear to be at increased risk for developing breast cancer. Reported at the American Association for Cancer Research 2005 annual meeting in Anaheim, CA. Freudenheim JL et al. Exposure to breastmilk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer. Epidemiology. 1994 May;5(3):324-31. [top] References: Less Breast Cancer (mother) Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. Breast cancer and breastfeeding: collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 47 epidemiological studies in 30 countries, including 50302 women with breast cancer and 96973 women without the disease. Lancet. 2002 Jul 20; 360(9328): 187-95. Furberg H, Newman B, Moorman P, Millikan R. Lactation and breast cancer risk. Int J Epidemiol 1999;28:396-402. Ing R, Ho JHC, Petrakis NL. Unilateral breastfeeding and breast cancer. Lancet July 16, 1997;124-27. Jernstrom H, et al. Breast-feeding and the risk of breast cancer in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004 Jul 21;96(14):1094-8. Layde PM, Webster LA, Baughman AL, Wingo PA, Rubin GL, Ory HW and the cancer and steroid hormone study group. The independent associations of parity, age at first full term pregnancy, and duration of breastfeeding with the risk of breast cancer. J Clin Epidemiol 1989;42:963-73. Lee SY, Kim MT, Kim SW, Song MS, Yoon SJ. Effect of lifetime lactation on breast cancer risk: A Korean Women's Cohort Study. Int J Cancer. 2003 Jun 20;105(3):390-3. McTiernan A, Thomas DB. Evidence for a protective effect of lactation on risk of breast cancer in young women. Am J Epidemiol 1986;124:353-74. Newcomb PA, Storer BE, Longnecker MP, Mittendorf R, Greenberg ER, Clapp RW, et al. Lactation and a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer. N Eng J Med 1994;330:81-7 Reuter KL, Baker SP, Krolikowski FJ. Risk factors for breast cancer in women undergoing mammography. Am J Radiol 1992;158:273-8. Romieu I, Hern�ndez-Avila M, Lazcano E, Lopez L, Romero-Jaime R. Breast cancer and lactation history in Mexican women. Am J Epidemiol 1996;143:543-52. Siskind V, Schofield F, Rice D, Bain C. Breast cancer and breastfeeding: results from an Australian case-control study. Am J Epidemiol 1989;130:229-36. Tao S-C, Yu MC, Ross RK, Xiu K-W. Risk factors for breast cancer in Chinese women of Beijing. Int J Cancer 1988;42:495-98. United Kingdom National Case-Control Study Group. Breastfeeding and risk of breast cancer in young women. Br Med J 1993;307:17-20. Yoo K-Y, Tajima K, Kuroishi T, Hirose K, Yoshida M, Miura S, Murai H. Independent protective effect of lactation against breast cancer: a case-control study in Japan. Am J Epidemiol 1992;135:726-33. Yuan J-M, Yu MC, Ross RK, Gao Y-T, Henderson BE. Risk factors for breast cancer in Chinese women in Shanghai. Cancer Res 1988;58:99-104. Zheng T et al. Lactation and breast cancer risk: a case-control study in Connecticut. Br J Cancer 2001 Jun;84(11):1472-6. Zheng T et al. Lactation reduces breast cancer risk in Shandong Province, China. Am J Epidemiol 2000 Dec 15;152(12):1129-35. [top] References: Diabetes - Decreased Insulin Requirements Davies HA et al. Insulin requirements of diabetic women who breast feed. BMJ. 1989 May 20;298(6684):1357-8. [top] References: Mother's Weight loss Butte NF, Garza C. Anthropometry in the appraisal of lactation performance among well-nourished women. pp. 61-67 in M Hamish and AS Goldman, eds Human Lactation 2: Maternal and Environmental Factors. Plenum Press, New York. Butte NF, Garza C, Stuff JE, Smith EO, Nichols BL. Effect of maternal diet and body composition on lactational performance. Am J Clin Nutr. 1984 Feb;39(2):296-306. Dewey KG, Heinig MJ, Nommsen LA. Maternal weight-loss patterns during prolonged lactation. Am J Clin Nutr 1993;58:162-6. Heinig MJ, Nommsen LA, Dewey KG. Lactation and postpartum weight loss. FASEB J 1990;4:362 (abstract). Heinig MJ et al. Lactation and postpartum weight loss. Mechanisms Regulating Latation and Infant Nutrient Utilization 1992;30:397-400. Kramer FM et al. Breast-feeding reduces maternal lower-body fat. J Am Diet Assoc. 1993 Apr;93(4):429-33. Manning-Dalton C, Allen LH. The effects of lactation on energy and protein consumption, postpartum weight change and body composition of well nourished North American women. Nutr Res 1983;3:293-308. Ohlin A, Rossner S. Maternal body weight development after pregnancy. Int J Obes 1990 Feb;14(2):159-73.
JessicaPasto JessicaPasto 5 years
I think its sad that some women on here are saying its gross to breastfeed past a certain age!! in my opinion, its more disturbing to see a 2 or 3 year old with a paci and bottle than seeing a child breastfeeding. Nursing is completely natural and what a woman's body i supposed to do. it isn't gross or "unethical" or whatever else. Women have boobs to feed their children.
NickyOBryon NickyOBryon 5 years
If I saw a 2 or 3 year old toddler breastfeeding I would think that the mother had trouble letting go of her baby. If she wants another baby that bad, then please have one. If you feel you must have your baby drink your breastmilk because you are convinced that beyond 1 it is the only good thing for your child then pump and put it in their sippy cup! My sons are in school now and are extremely bright - guess breastmilk!
DeniseQuinn70147 DeniseQuinn70147 5 years
My daughter was straight formula fed. I worked and my husband (at the time) traveled Monday through Friday. 4 years later, along came my son. He was 6 weeks early. He was so tiny and my breasts were very large that he had a very difficult time latching on. So, for 6 months I pumped and bottle fed him. My sister in law, on the other hand, breast fed until my nephew was almost 18 months old. My children rarely get sick. Have never had an ear infection. My son has never had the flu and my daughter has had it once. She is almost 13. My nephew is sick all the time. When I say all the time, I mean all the time. Both of my children are on the honor roll and my son is gifted in math. I don't believe that breast milk is the decisive factor in whether or not your child is going to smart, healthy, straight teeth, etc.
CoMMember13631173337161 CoMMember13631173337161 5 years
I breastfed my boy until he was just past his 4th birthday. He would happily have fed longer. I had a friend with a baby the same age who breast fed longer so we supported each other. He was dairy and gluten intolerant, so I ate gluten and dairy free. It was good for my health too. He was hard to settle and feed without breastmilk. Breastfeeding so long had its advantages and disadvantages for me but I would absolutely recommend it for mother and child. He is now 31yo getting High Distinctions at university master's level and is considered young for the position he holds at work. He stays very fit and healthy as long as he eats gluten and dairy free. So my experience supports the view that beast feeding is good for health, intelligence and brain development. He has a tendancy to aspergers if he goes 'off diet' . I think breastmilk + gfcf diet enabled him to overcome the antisocial aspects of aspergers. They disappeared when I breastfed turning tears to smiles and agressive behaviour to charm. Later, going off gfcf diet brought back problems. So breastfeeding really helped my boy's health and socialisation. As for learning to play with others as mentioned in previous comments, he had lots of same age friends from newborn that we visited regularly. Almost all day everyday he was with other babies then children his age. In a week he would probably mix with 20 or so similarly aged children, some were close friends some were occassional or new friends.Because I was breastfeeding I didn't need to spend long in the kitchen and I could always breastfeed when I was out without having to prepare and heat a bottle or prepare food. When I look after my grandson for extended periods I spent a lot more time in the kitchen and have much less time just to spend with him playing or taking him to play with friends, I always fed discreetly. What seems a bit weird when you aren't breastfeeding feels normal when you are, and I think it helped me feel totally content in my role as mother. When breastfeeding finished I became a little more restless and keener to do other things. Before I gave birth I was happy to be a bottlefeeder like my mother. How I changed.
MadieKnudson MadieKnudson 5 years
I could never breastfeed my child for that long! I have 3 kids and I breastfed every one of them. The first for 8 months, second for 18 months and my third for 16 months. I'm extremely modest so it makes me cringe to think of even my now 2 year old daughter or 4 year old son seeing my boobs!! That's just gross and in my opinion wrong. I've never gotten why people do it.. Oh well. I guess to each their own..
MeghanNewby MeghanNewby 5 years
These "benefits" can't be proven, in fact your child can get the same benefits from other sources. You can provide comfort and security without breastfeeding. I let my children wean themselves and they all did it around 12 months or so. They went straight to a sippee so didn't have teeth issues that bottles bring. Breastfeeding is not the only way to build an immune system. Other healthy habits do that, my kids are rarely sick and they get over it really fast when they do get sick. Breastfeeding is not the only way to offer nutritional boosts. Get creative about how you present the foods... eat them yourself and they will follow your example. If you want to breastfeed until your child is 3 or 4... go ahead... but don't act like it's the only way your cheild gets these benefits. -Mom of 3 with #4 coming any day-
MaryHall95932 MaryHall95932 5 years
There are no studies to back up breastfeeding past a year. Not one. To each his own and if you can't do it don't let this make you feel bad about yourself as a mother. Some babies are born with genes that give them straight teeth, some don't get sick as much because they are not in daycare and some kids are just more book smart than others. None of this will determine success in life. You can get braces, work with your kids and keep them home too even if breast feeding wasn't an option past however long you could do it. :)
MarjorieNelson MarjorieNelson 5 years
I am so jealous! I'm just trying to breastfeed up to 6 months and having a hard time doing so
SabrenahBelgard SabrenahBelgard 5 years
I do believe breastfeeding is very VERY good for the baby, however, when your kid can TELL you in full sentences that he/she wants to breastfeed...thats a little weird in my opinion. If they are mature enough to pull the breast out of their mother's shirt and do it all by themselves, I think it's time to quit.
RubyStogsdill RubyStogsdill 6 years
Both of my boys nursed until they were 3. It was their timing, when they showed signs they were not interested in nursing any longer they stopped. That meant I nursed continually for 5 years as the oldest boy was not yet 2 when I got pregnant again and he was not at all ready to wean. My doctor assured me that the new baby, myself or the toddler would not be harmed if I continued to nurse so we continued to do so. When the baby was born the toddler learned that he would have to wait until the baby nursed before he could and he was eager to let his baby be first.
KimberlyAbney KimberlyAbney 6 years
I have to say that I breast fed my 3rd daughter until her 3rd birthday and I've noticed a huge difference between each of my daughters...and I nursed each one for different lengths of time. My last daughter isn't nearly as picky about food, she's healthier then the others, and she doesn't have any issues at all with her learning...she's a faster learner. And no her other siblings don't help her learn (they are 25, 19, and 17...the oldest is my step-son he lives in Washington, our 19 year old lives in Michigan, and our 17 year old wants nothing to do with her 5 year old sister) It's been almost 3 years since I weaned her and she is still learning at a very fast rate that just amazes my husband and I. While it was really tough to keep breastfeeding while she was teething and at times I REALLY thought about quitting, I decided that the pain that I went through was worth it for her to be so healthy and smart. I know that I'm no better then any other mother out there but nothing will stop me from doing what's best for my children...including the pain that I went through during the teething took some time to teach her but she learned and then it didn't happen again.
TamaraConnatser TamaraConnatser 6 years
I love the nutritional boost bit. I have an INCREDIBLY picky eater. He doesn't let me feed him table foods (as he wants to do that all by himself) but he hates the food to be sticky or goopy on his hands which leads to a big mess of him trying to fling stuck food off his hands (He is only a little over one) and best I can do is to get him to eat batter-covered chicken fingers which he loves. Sometimes I can spoon feed him mac and cheese or spahgetti but he really likes doing that himself! I keep getting pestered about weaning him now since he just turned one and I don't understand why? They aren't the ones feeding him and making him healthy! He is my little boy and I want him to wean as he wants to! Also, it is healthier for him in the long run, and the bonding time is always awesome.
Deb73027 Deb73027 6 years
I nursed my youngest until she was 3 years 8 months. I didn't plan it - it just happened that way. I made the decision to nurse until she as a year old and when I started to give her whole milk she was not tolerant of it at all so I kept nursing her. We enjoyed it so much - she wasn't even bothered by the teasing she got when she was older. Someone asked her why to do you still eat "num-nums" and she said "Because I love it!" Now that's smart!! :)
SalomedeFontaine SalomedeFontaine 6 years
I agree that breastfeeding for longer is excellent. My 3 children, now adults were fed for three years, except my second son, my milk dried up when I fell pregnant with my daughter when he was about 2 and a half years. One other benefit is that they all have perfectly straight teeth! One dentist could not believe that they did not have braces. They are all highly intelligent and now wonderful parents themselves. I loved the closeness of breastfeeding and read to the older ones while feeding the baby. Needless to say they love reading! That also meant that we shared time together and no jealousy amongst them.
Things to Do Before Potty-Training
Mom's Post on Why Adults Should Think Like Children
Mom Jokes About the Exhausting Life of a Toddler
Signs of Asperger's Syndrome
From Our Partners
Latest Moms
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds