Start your breastfeeding off right with helpful information from non-profit Best for Babes.

Breastfeed a Toddler? Why?

Breastfeeding in The Park.
iStockphoto/Yulya Shilova

Maybe your mom breastfed you. But it’s just as likely that, she didn’t. A few decades ago breastfeeding wasn’t really the norm.

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But today, that has changed. The number of moms who chose to breastfeed is on the rise.  And there’s even a growing number of women who are choosing to nurse their toddlers.  Sure, you may not see this all that often. But we promise you, it’s happening. And it’s a good thing.

There are countless benefits to breastfeeding for both the baby, and for you. Reduced illnesses and protection against certain diseases, to name a few. And the health benefits continue into toddlerhood, especially since the quality of breastmilk does not decline as the child gets older despite popular belief. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least one year, or longer. And the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years. Anthropologist Katherine Dettwyler has even said the natural weaning age is somewhere between 2.5 and 7 years of age.

In addition to the nutrition and health benefits, breastfeeding can be a great source of comfort for a toddler. It’s also useful when your child is sick or hurt. And compared to a younger baby, the pattern of nursing sessions is more variable.  Sometimes toddlers will nurse for quick snacks and then go right back to playing. Sometimes nursing sessions will be longer. Every child is different.

The only possible downside to nursing a toddler, is that you may face some naysayers, or folks who could use a little enlightening. If that’s the case, smile, and maybe ask them this… would they rather watch you nurse your child, or witness a full blown tantrum? Their call.

About Andi

Andi Silverman is the author of "Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner's Guide to Breastfeeding." She is also a digital marketing consultant for Nosy Crow, a children's book and app publisher. Andi blogs at mamaknowsbreast.com and can be found on Twitter @AndiSilverman.

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