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Breast milk, as everyone knows, is liquid gold. There is no denying this fact. The benefits that breast milk alone can provide your baby cannot be provided by any other substitute. It is advisable for every mother (to-be) to breastfeed their babies. But these days, the debate is on for how long should I breastfeed my baby.
To be honest, in past times, this was not even a question. Babies would breastfeed for as long as they wanted to. I even happen to know mothers who have breastfed their babies up until the age of 4-5 years giving them bonus benefits. But the times and priorities have changed today. The biggest question every breastfeeding mom has – How long should I continue this for? And deciding when to stop is an important decision to take for every mother. Now to answer this question, let’s consider a few things first –
- It is advisable to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) considers it best to breastfeed a minimum of two years.
- The more the years of breastfeeding, the more benefits to the baby in the long run.
- Benefits accrue to both baby and the mother.
- It changes in composition according to your baby’s needs and provides nutrients accordingly.
These things are very basic in nature. Everyone knows that breastfeeding comes with its own advantages. And that they are many.
To begin with, it is always wise to exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first six months. The reason being that in the first six months, although you do give a lot of illness fighting goodness to your baby, this is also the minimum amount of time you should breastfeed. Not 3 months, not 4 months but a minimum of 6 months to be precise. You should absolutely not budge from this. Unless of course there are reasons you can’t really do much about.
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If we go by scientific evidence, they say that a baby takes at least a year of breastfeeding to actually get the goodness of all the antibodies that comes with breast milk. Meaning – that if you do not breastfeed your baby for a year, he will not get the most of your breast milk.
Have you ever noticed that people our age fell sick very rarely during our times when we were kids? That’s because breastfeeding during those times used to be extended far beyond 6 months.
The more a baby breastfeeds for, the better are his chances of immunity against so many illnesses. This is a fact that needs no proof. I have seen people who have been breastfed for only 3-6 months in their infancy and people who have been breastfed for 2 years and beyond. There is stark noticeable difference in their health and their immunity against diseases.
And the benefits are not only provided to the baby in form of immunity from ear infections, diabetes, skin diseases, gastrointestinal problems, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) etc. But also to the mother in form of immunity from breast cancer, ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Also, not to mention that women’s bodies are designed in such a way that if their baby happens to fall sick, the body automatically changes the composition of the breast milk in such a way that it provides all those vital nutrients for the baby at that time.
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So considering all these things and the scientific evidences in favor of breast milk, personally I believe that you should breastfeed your baby exclusively for the first six months. And continue breastfeeding for at least a minimum of a year.
I’m all in favor of extended breastfeeding. If a little bit of effort from your end can end up saving your baby from so many diseases, then why not?
How about you? How long do you plan to breastfeed your baby for? Have you already passed that stage?
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