Nursing Past One Year
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding through at least the first 12 months though standards of how long to breastfeed vary across cultures and personal beliefs. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends nursing to 2 years. It is important to know that the benefits of breastfeeding continue for you and your baby as long as you are nursing and last far beyond weaning. The benefits don’t diminish or expire on baby’s first birthday!
Exactly when moms choose to wean is a personal decision, and some moms choose to continue breastfeeding until their baby is 18 months, 24 months, 3 years or even older. Whatever decision you make, be assured that the benefits of breastfeeding don’t diminish for you and your baby because your child reaches a certain age. As long as you continue, breastfeeding still provides antibodies, immunities, proteins, fats, nourishment, bonding, and a host of other attributes to benefit you and your baby.
Nursing an older baby will be different than nursing a newborn. Your child may nurse at different times and for shorter lengths of time. Toddlers are full of curiosity and discovery and so it can be comforting for them to still be nursing, which is just as much about comfort as it is for nutrition. You know your baby well and you can read their signals so follow their lead.
There is no absolute for anyone and you know what’s best for you and your child. If that means nursing beyond 12 months, we encourage and support you to continue as long as you wish.