An Introduction to Extended Breastfeeding

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Though the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding up until two years of age and for however long after that period as desired by the mother and child, most people in our society view extended breastfeeding as breastfeeding that takes place in with an infant over the age of one year.

Breastfeeding into toddlerhood can have a variety of positive effects on the relationship between the mother and the toddler. The mother can pass on vital immunity through the Breastmilk, providing the toddler with the ability to easier fight off infections and viruses that they are exposed to, especially important in the case that the toddler spends periods of time with other children.

Breastfeeding a toddler however, comes with a variety of issues. One of the main issues that most mothers experience is criticism from family members, friends and even strangers about the fact that their toddler is still nursing. Explaining that is a decision made by the mother and the toddler is not so easily explained when family members and friend bombard the mother with questions. It is important to realize that it is unnecessary for the mother to explain herself, or the decision to continue breastfeeding, to anyone.

Manners are an essential part of breastfeeding a toddler. There are bound to be times when the toddler inevitably decides that they would like to nurse, sometimes at the most inopportune times. Most toddlers learn physical cues such as pushing the breast, poking the mother, trying to latch on to the breast through the clothes and even trying to un-zipper or pull-down the mother’s shirt. Though it can be difficult to teach the toddler nursing manners, it is an essential part of successfully breastfeeding in public, as well as into toddlerhood.

To teach manners while breastfeeding a toddler, repetition and patience are essential. It is important to teach the child how to nurse appropriately and where and how to nurse. This way, the child can learn the proper cues that can be used while nursing and to signal to the mother that the child would like to nurse.
Extended breastfeeding is becoming more and more accepted in our society and many women are breastfeeding into toddlerhood, allowing the child to gain the benefits that come from having Breastmilk as a form of nutrients.
While breastfeeding into toddlerhood, many mothers also supplement using a combination of breast milk and cow’s milk.

This way, the child can obtain the nutrients, iron and calcium from the milk and the immunities and nutrients from the breast milk as well. Using milk in a bottle in addition to breastfeeding can be a great option for mothers that work outside of the home. While the mother is away, at work, the caregiver can provide the child with milk in a bottle, in anticipation of the mother’s return and providing the child with the breast.

Extended breastfeeding has benefits for the toddler, as well as the mother including reducing the instance of developing certain types of cancers with consecutive years of breastfeeding.




  1. Inspiring article, I am still breastfeeding my 15 months baby so you help me with some of my problems like criticism from members of my family and how to teach my toddler manners.
    Thanks a lot .

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