Until when breastfeed the child? After all, how old is it to stop?
When the baby is over a year old, he walks everywhere and mumbles the first words, people around him find breastfeeding strange.
The question comes from people close to you and also from strangers. Does continuing to breastfeed take away the child’s independence?
Rest assured, as this and other questions about the breastfeeding after 2 years of age they are quite normal.
That’s why we created this article so that you have these and other questions answered here! Come on?
How important is breastfeeding?
First of all, let’s understand the importance of breastfeeding! It is much more than just a way to feed the baby, it is part of the bond between mother and child.
They exist many factors (practical, physical and emotional) involved in the decision to continue, reduce or stop breastfeeding.
Advice from family and friends on how long to breastfeed can be well intentioned but inaccurate or biased.
Therefore, if the mother needs impartial support about when and how to stop breastfeeding, it is necessary to look outside the family environment.
We know that breast milk continues to be a nutritious food for children from the newborn.
Also, the older you are, the more fat it contains and the more calories it contributes.
Breast milk does not lose its properties over time. From the first year of lactation, the amount of fat in milk increases in relation to the first few months.
This results in a complete and nutritious food for an older child and of higher quality than formula or cow’s milk.
Another point is that a baby over one year of age who is breastfeeding receives about 1/3 of its daily calorie and protein needs through breast milk (sometimes more, especially during periods of illness), plus a very important amount of vitamins and minerals.
Until when to breastfeed the child? How ideal is it?
Know that the important thing is to do what is ideal for the mother and her baby! Continuing to breastfeed helps reduce the chance of food intolerances and continues to protect your baby from infections, whether four months or two years old.
Breast milk is the most complete food for a newborn baby. The recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) is that breast milk is the exclusive food of the newborn until he completes six months of age.
Therefore, the baby does not need any other food or drink at this stage, nor baby food, nor juice, nor water, etc.
Then, after the first six months, milk can continue as a complementary food until the age of two.
But does this mean that the child cannot continue to be breastfed? Definitely not! It is okay to continue breastfeeding after 24 months.
Breast milk also does not weaken over time. This is another recurring myth, as milk is still rich in nutrients regardless of whether your baby is 2 months or 2 years old.
After that age, by the way, breastfeeding is still doing very well! Children who continue to be breastfed after 2 years of age are less likely to develop overweight and obesity.
Be aware that in many non-Western cultures, children tend to continue breastfeeding until they are 3 or 4 years old.
However, in our Western society, weaning is much more encouraged as soon as possible.
Breast milk is an excellent food supplement. When the child has a healthy diet, breast milk helps to supply the necessary nutrients, in addition to the bond between mother and child that is expanded.
What are the benefits of prolonged breastfeeding?
Older children who are breastfed continue to enjoy the immunological benefits of breast milk, with a lower incidence of infections than children of the same age who are not breastfed.
The advantages of keeping breastfeeding longer are not only seen in the short term, but years after weaning.
Benefits of prolonged breastfeeding for the baby:
Balanced nutrition: Breast milk is considered a treasure for infant nutrition. As your baby ages, the composition of breast milk will continue to change to meet your nutritional needs.
There is no known age at which breast milk is considered to be insignificant for an infant.
Increased Immunity: As long as a woman breastfeeds, the cells, hormones and antibodies in her breast milk will continue to boost the baby’s immune system.
Improved health: Research shows that longer and more continuous breastfeeding and the amount of breastmilk a baby takes in only benefits their health.
Reduced risk of certain diseases: Prolonged breastfeeding, as well as breastfeeding for 12 months or more, has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
So when to wean?
Weaning time will come. There are many factors that influence weaning: the mother’s routine, the family dynamics, the frequency that mother and child meet during the day.
And when the mother wants to breastfeed the child for as long as possible? In this case, believe me, there will be a time when the child will simply not want to breastfeed.
Remember that your child does not just breastfeed for food, but also as a way to receive affection.
So, as he accepts other ways to be comforted and even a greater amount and variety of foods, interest in feedings may decrease. This is a normal process.
See also about child with finger in mouth and how to solve the problem!
Weaning: 5 tips to stop breastfeeding your child without trauma and with peace of mind
Have you decided it’s time to wean? I mean, are you going to stop breastfeeding your child? So check out our tips below for a wean quiet!
As we said before, until the age of two, breast milk should be the baby’s only food.
In other words, he should not receive any other type of food, only after seven months. From that age onwards, new foods will be introduced.
With the food introduction, gentle or gradual weaning can be started, which must be guided by the pediatrician.
Basically, it is done by reducing the number of feedings or their duration, so that it does not generate trauma or insecurity for the baby, in addition to not interfering with its emotional development and growth.
Ideally, weaning should take place gradually and naturally, making the child himself less interested in breastfeeding and more accepting of a variety of foods.
This usually occurs between the ages of 2 and 4, leading to full weaning, which consists of completely stopping breastfeeding.
Although it is not always easy to carry out the gentle weaning process, there are some techniques that facilitate weaning in a way that should be done under the supervision of a pediatrician.
Some ways to do the gentle weaning they are:
1. Decrease the amount of feedings
This care is important because, by decreasing the number of times the baby breastfeeds, the production of breast milk will also decrease at the same rate, and thus, the mother does not have heavy breasts and full of milk.
In order for this to be done gradually, without harming the mother or the baby, it is possible, from the baby’s 7 months onwards, to replace a time for a feeding with a meal, once a week, for example, and keep increasing this frequency gradually.
At this stage, it is important to be aware of possible signs that the baby intends to replace breastfeeding, such as, for example, showing less interest in the breast at a certain time.
What can be done in this case is to prefer this time to have the breastfeeding replacement meal.
2. Decrease the duration of feedings
Another good technique for trauma-free weaning is to reduce the time the baby feeds with each feed.
For example, if the baby normally spends about 20 minutes at each breast, what you can do is to allow him to breastfeed for only 15 minutes at each breast and, each week, reduce this time a little more.
However, the baby should not be forced to leave the breast, it is important that the mother maintains the same amount of time as before to continue to pay attention to the baby after the feed, playing with him, for example.
In this way, the baby starts to associate that the mother’s breast is not just for breastfeeding, but that it can also serve as a moment of play and affection.
3. Ask someone else to feed the baby
It is normal that, when the baby is hungry, he associates the mother’s presence with the desire to breastfeed.
So, when the mother has difficulty feeding the baby instead of feeding, it can be a good option to ask someone else, such as the father or grandmother, to do this.
If the baby still wants to breastfeed, the amount of milk he or she will drink should be less than normal.
Until when to breastfeed the child? Weaning Tips
4. Not offering the breast
From the age of 1, the baby can eat practically anything and, therefore, if the child is hungry, they can eat something else instead of breastfeeding.
A good strategy to facilitate weaning is that the mother does not offer the breast or wear blouses that facilitate the baby’s access to the breast, breastfeeding only in the morning and at night.
When the baby is close to 2 years of age, the breast should be offered at these times only if the child asks for it.
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