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Breast Feeding

When to stop brestfeeding?

03/23/2006

Question:

A friend of mine has a sister in law that is still brestfeeding her child. The child will be three years old in July of 2006, when told he is too old she argues that is for nutritional reasons. Is the child really getting any nutrutional value from this?

Answer:

Recommendations for breastfeeding from the American Academy of Pediatrics,the Center for Disease Control, National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization is to breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months of your infant's life and continue to breastfeed for the next 6 months as solid foods are introduced. By the age of 3 a toddler should be getting the large majority of his nutrition from table foods. In some third world countries it is recommended that mothers continue to breastfed through the second year both for nutritional reasons and to continue to provide the immunological advantages to the infant. While there are some mothers who continue to breastfeed well past the first year here in the US, by the time the child is 2-3 the feedings are more for comfort and closeness than for nutritional reasons. Your friend's sister may want to do some personal examination of her reasons for continuing to breastfeed and when she would consider weaning completely, but other than our cultural expectation for weaning at an early time and establishing independence from the child, there is no weaning has to happen by the time the child is 3.

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Response by:

Barbara   Morrison, PhD, CNM, FNP Barbara Morrison, PhD, CNM, FNP
Assistant Professor of Nursing
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
Case Western Reserve University