Know the benefits, the role breast milk plays in an older baby’s diet
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth—and breastfeeding in combination with solid foods until at least age 1. Breastfeeding is recommended as long as you and your baby wish to continue.
But are there benefits of breastfeeding beyond infancy? Yes, and they include:
- Balanced nutrition. Breast milk is considered the gold standard for infant nutrition. As your baby gets older, the composition of your breast milk will continue to change to meet his or her nutritional needs. There’s no known age at which breast milk is considered nutritionally insignificant for a child.
- Boosted immunity. As long as you breastfeed, the cells, hormones and antibodies in your breast milk will continue to bolster your baby’s immune system.
- Improved health. Research suggests the longer breastfeeding continues and the more breast milk a baby drinks, the better his or her health might be.
Breastfeeding beyond infancy has benefits for mom, too:
- Reduced risk of certain illnesses. Breastfeeding beyond infancy, as well as breastfeeding for 12 months or more cumulatively in life, has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
- Improved health. Research suggests the longer breastfeeding continues and the more breast milk a baby drinks, the better a mother’s health might be.