How Breastfeeding Benefits Add Up

Mothers who breastfeed past a year often talk of the emotional benefits gained: the comfort and security it gives their little ones, the ease it brings to naptimes and bedtimes, and the opportunities it offers to relax and tune in to each other during a hectic day.

At this point, you and your baby have formed a solid bond, a healthy starting point from which your baby can experiment with his growing independence. Together you can work on the weaning process, progressing gradually at a pace that he can handle.

  • If your baby nurses until she outgrows the need, you can feel confident that you have met your baby's physical and emotional needs in the healthiest and most natural way possible. As long as you nurse, your milk continues to provide antibodies and other protective substances that make illnesses milder and easier to handle. In fact, families of nursing toddlers often find that their medical bills are lower for years to come. The World Health Organization encourages breastfeeding through toddlerhood.<.

    Children who were nursed long-term tend to be secure. Nursing can help you and your child through the tears, tantrums, and tumbles of toddlerhood. Don't worry that your child will nurse forever. All children eventually wean no matter what you do, and there are more nursing toddlers around than you might guess.

  • Whether you breastfeed for days, weeks, months, or years, both you and your baby will enjoy many benefits. Some mothers hesitate to begin breastfeeding if they know they will not be nursing for very long. But even one nursing at the breast is of value to you and your baby.

    Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, is an accredited La Leche League leader and international board-certified lactation consultant. She is the mom of three boys that each nursed more than a year. Nancy is known internationally for her expertise on breastfeeding. Her books, articles, and pamphlets are used by doctors, nurses, lactation consultants, lay breastfeeding counselors and public health workersDoctors, nurses, lactation consultants, lay breastfeeding counselors and public health workers use her books, articles, and pamphlets. The Breastfeeding Answer Book (1997), which she co-authored with Julie Stock, is a comprehensive research-based counseling guide that is also used to train lactation educators. You can see more of her articles at her website, The Art of Breastfeeding.

    Article republished by Pregnancy.org, LLC with permission from author. Originally published in 11/93, Baby Talk magazine.