It’s true when they say that the days are long but the years are short when you have a baby. Congratulations, Mama, you’ve reached the one year mark of breastfeeding and what a journey it has been! From training your baby how to latch to now being pinned down by a fully mobile toddler, you sure have grown mentally, emotionally, and physically tough. While the breastfeeding timeline is different for each parent and baby, if you decide to continue on, here are some things you need to know about extended breastfeeding beyond the one year mark.
We all know that breastfeeding is beneficial for a baby’s development especially during the first year of life. But did you know that it’s also beneficial for toddlers, too? That’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends extending breastfeeding for the first two years of life. You see, Mama, your milk changes as your baby grows older. Even though your toddler is already eating three meals a day, drinking your breastmilk provides important nutrients like lactose, iron, potassium, and protein. Also, in a study done about the relationship of fat content and duration of lactation, it was found that breast milk after one year had higher energy and fat contents which may be beneficial to the growth and development of babies.
When you decide to prolong breastfeeding beyond the one year mark, you’re also prolonging the benefits of your child having a strong immune system that can fight off infections. It’s heartbreaking to see your baby sick, right Mama? So, just like how your milk protected your infant from getting sick, it continues to give special cells and antibodies that improve short- and long-term immunity now that your infant is already a toddler.
Whether your toddler is just starting to take his first steps or can already run away from you, his new found independence and mobility will eventually tire him out. If you continue to breastfeed your child for an extended period, you’ll find out that your nursing session will be the time for your toddler to recuperate and reconnect with you. There are different other ways of bonding with your child, yes, but breastfeeding allows you to help your toddler regulate, relax, and be comforted.
Breastfeeding for an extended period of time doesn’t only benefit your child, it helps you stay healthy, too, Mama! Studies show that breastfeeding for more than 12 months lowers your risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. It’s also said to help moms lose weight easier and maintain a healthier emotional state. Extended breastfeeding is a mutual decision between a mother and a child–a beautiful give and take process–that’s worth celebrating.