is almost always the best choice for your baby. If it doesn’t seem like the best choice for you right now, these guidelines may help.
IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR JUST A FEW DAYS, he will have received
IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR FOUR TO SIX WEEKS, you will have eased
IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR 3 OR 4 MONTHS, her digestive system will have matured a great deal, and she will be much better able to tolerate the foreign substances in commercial formulas. If there is a family history of allergies, though, you will greatly reduce her risk by waiting a few more months before adding anything at all to her diet of breastmilk. And giving nothing but your milk for the first four months gives strong protection against ear infections for a whole year.
IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR 6 MONTHS without adding any other food
IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR 9 MONTHS, you will have seen him through the fastest and most important brain and body development of his life on the food that was designed for him – your milk. Nursing for at least this long will help ensure better performance all through his school years. Weaning may be fairly easy at this age… but then, so is nursing! If you want to avoid weaning this early, be sure you’ve been available to nurse for comfort as well as just for food.
IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR A YEAR, you can avoid the expense and
IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR 18 MONTHS, you will have continued to provide the nutrition, comfort, and illness protection your baby expects, at a time when illness is common in formula-fed babies. Your baby is probably well started on table foods, too. He has had time to form a solid bond with you – a healthy starting point for his growing independence. And he is old enough that you and he can work together on the weaning process, at a pace that he can handle. A former U.S. Surgeon General said, “it is the lucky baby… that nurses to age two.”
IF YOUR CHILD WEANS WHEN SHE IS READY, you can feel confident that you have met your baby’s physical and emotional needs in the most normal, healthy way. In cultures where there is no pressure to wean, children tend to nurse for at least two years. The World Health Organization and UNICEF strongly encourage breastfeeding through toddlerhood: “Breastmilk is an important source of energy and protein, and helps to protect against disease during the child’s second year of life.” Our biology seems geared to a weaning age of between 2 1/2 and 7 years, and it just makes sense to build our children’s bones from the milk that was designed for them. Your milk provides antibodies and other protective substances for as long as you continue nursing, and families of nursing toddlers often find that their medical bills are lower than their neighbors’ for years to come. Research indicates that the longer a child nurses, the higher his intelligence. Mothers who
WHETHER YOU NURSE FOR A DAY OR FOR SEVERAL YEARS, the decision to nurse your child is one you need never regret. And whenever weaning takes place, remember that it is a big step for both of you. If you choose to wean before your child is ready, be sure to do it gradually, and with love.
©2013 Diane Wiessinger, MS,IBCLC www.normalfed.com