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How long should a mother breastfeed?

A mother and her baby should breastfeed for as long as they wish to breastfeed. The American Academy of Pediatrics currently (2005) recommends: "Pediatricians and parents should be aware that exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infection. Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child." * As solids are introduced, usually around the middle of the first year, your baby will shift his primary source of nutrition from your milk to other foods.

All the benefits of human milk—including nutritional and health—continue for as long as your baby receives your milk. In fact, as your baby takes less human milk, these advantages are condensed into what milk is produced. Many of the health benefits of human milk are dose related, that is, the longer the baby receives human milk, the greater are the benefits.

*See http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;115/2/496

Resources for Additional Information

Contact a local La Leche League Leader for more information and support . For help in finding a local Leader, check out Finding a Local LLL Group.

These items may be available from the LLLI Online Store or through your local LLL Leader.

THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, published by La Leche League International, is the most complete resource available for the breastfeeding mother. (Softcover, 564 pages)

Does Breastfeeding Take Too Much Time? Written for the breastfeeding mother who is considering weaning or simply feels overwhelmed with the job of taking care of a young child. (No 291-17)

MOTHERING YOUR NURSING TODDLER, revised edition by Norma Jane Bumgarner: The classic handbook for mothers who breastfeed their children past infancy in an updated and expanded edition. Norma Jane Bumgarner puts the experience of nursing an older baby or child in perspective, within the context of the entire mother-child relationship. She cites biological, cultural, and historical evidence in support of extended breastfeeding and shares stories gleaned from thousands of families for whom breastfeeding and natural weaning have been the norm. (Softcover, 30 pages. No 157-12)

HOW WEANING HAPPENS by Diane Bengson: Written by an LLL Leader, HOW WEANING HAPPENS includes the personal experiences of mothers who have weaned in a variety of ways. It covers the kinds of questions parents have about weaning and reassures them that weaning is a natural process and does not have to be a stressful event for mother or child. (Softcover, 156 pages. No 142-12)

Breastfeeding Guide: Tips and Products 2010 (Online Edition) 

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