By: Anna Katrina J. Bolivar
Breastfeeding for the first six months is not easy, more so breastfeeding toddlers who turn and tumble while latching. Yet, your babies have just so much to gain from your milk.
The World Health Organization (WHO) highly recommends exclusively breastfeeding infants for the first six months and providing nutritious complementary food alongside breastfeeding for two years or beyond. However, some might question the benefits of extended breastfeeding, which is breastfeeding beyond one year of age.
I've been breastfeeding my son Tristan for 3 years now! A lot of people are amazed by this feat, including myself. I never thought I would last this long, but as I took it one day at a time I have found myself here in this position. I have absolutely no regrets because my bond with my son is solid, and while I get "advice" from people that my baby doesn't get anything from my milk anymore (and it is a mere indulgence at this point), well, I've found that he gets sick very rarely and he is such a calm and happy baby. I hope to continue until he weans himself from me, so before then I try to enjoy my son's feeding time (which is getting less and less), as I know it will not last forever. I am happy and proud to be able to give this gift of time, effort and love to my son, which is worth its weight in gold. Happy breastfeeding month, mommas!!! ❤️❤️❤️ @elin_ph
Model and lifestyle blogger Kelly Misa-Fernandez, in line with the celebration of the breastfeeding month, shared that she is still breastfeeding her son for three years now. She admitted that there are people who question her decision but she is firm about breastfeeding her son until he weans on his own time.
The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months are unquestionable. Babies benefit almost holistically — they benefit from the nutritional content of breast milk, they have a better immune system, the skin-to-skin contact with mothers stimulates their brain development, their emotional bond with their mothers are strengthened, and the list goes on.
Infants do not immediately wean by the time they reach six months or one year of age. Some continue to breastfeed even beyond two years of age. And yes, kids continue to benefit from their mother’s breast milk even at toddlerhood.
Although toddlers get most of their nutrition from their food intake, extended breastfeeding still contributes to your child’s nutrition. Beyond two years, breast milk is a great source of protein, fats, and most vitamins. It provides energy, protein, calcium, vitamin A, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and maybe more.
Toddlers are curious creatures who explore a lot and are therefore more at risk of contracting bacteria or viruses. Toddlers who continue to breastfeed were found to have lower chances of getting sick and when they do, the illness is usually short-lived. Some immune factors only increase in concentration by the second year of breastfeeding and during weaning.
Extended breastfeeding also contributes to your child’s intellectual development and social development. Cognitive development is greatest among kids who breastfeed the longest. Extended breastfeeding also encourages independence among kids when they realize that they are ready to wean on their own time.
Breastfeeding for the first six months is not easy, more so breastfeeding toddlers who turn and tumble while latching. Yet, your babies have just so much to gain from your milk. So let’s endure the challenges and continue to give our kids our God-given liquid gold. Let’s enjoy the journey as it may soon be over.
Anna Katrina Bolivar is a first-time mom to a baby girl. She’s a stay-at-home, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and cosleeping mom. She has her own blog. Despite all the challenges of a stay-at-home mom, she always goes to sleep with a heart that is overflowing with love for the Lord, her husband, and their precious little girl.