Is There any Point in Breastfeeding Longer Than a Year?
The WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding recommends: “As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond.”
There is no documented age beyond which breastfeeding is irrelevant, useless or detrimental. Anthropologists calculate that human infants are probably biologically programmed to breastfeed for 2.5 to 7 years.
Immunologic factors in the milk provide vital protection for the infant at all stages of lactation, and in any amount, for at least three years. These unique and broad-spectrum protections are unavailable from any other source. Trace minerals, specific nutrients that foster brain development, and bonding/attachment are also important to the infant and mother at all stages of breastfeeding, even when the child is consuming substantial amounts of other family foods.
Here are some articles on the importance of breastfeeding beyond the first year:
(c) Copyright 2009 Linda J. Smith
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