How long should I breastfeed

Ask Amanda: How Long Should I Breastfeed Your Questions Answered by Our Expert RD

My little one is quickly approaching one year old and I am breastfeeding.  I’d like to nurse as long as possible and have my breastfeeding relationship with him preserved.  Is there any reason I need to stop breastfeeding after he turns one?  Do I need to think about weaning him from breastfeeding?

Thanks for asking this question!  Without knowing the specifics, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both emphasize weaning is not the termination of breastfeeding but the addition of solids. I think this can often be misunderstood.

Breastfeeding can continue to have health and emotional benefits for both the mother and child well beyond one year.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.

The American Academy of Family Physicians indicates that “health outcomes for mothers and babies are best when breastfeeding continues for at least two years” and “breastfeeding should continue as long as mutually desired by mother and child.”

There can be nutritional benefits to prolonged breastfeeding as well.  Some studies indicate that human milk expressed by mothers who have been lactating for more than a year has significantly increased fat and energy contents compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods.

I say – nurse on! The science is behind you.

Ask Amanda is a weekly column from Feed to Succeed dietitian Amanda Gordon. Have a question? Email Amanda and let her know or submit an “Ask Amanda” question for a future column.