Have you ever started breastfeeding your toddler out in public and got an immediate dirty look? Well, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that it’s perfectly okay to breastfeed your toddler – and you shouldn’t feel ashamed about it. Although I’ve faced criticism for doing so, I am currently breastfeeding my toddler and breastfed my oldest daughter until 2.5 years old. One thing breastfeeding moms need is support. I am sharing the updated AAP guideline related to extended breastfeeding to help you make informed decisions along your breastfeeding journey. It can also serve as a source of education for the naysayers.
What are the AAP Guidelines for Breastfeeding a Toddler?
Benefits of Breastfeeding Beyond 1 Year
According to the AAP: “There are continued benefits from breastfeeding beyond 1 year, and up to 2 years, especially in the mother. Long-term breastfeeding is associated with protections against diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancers of the breast and ovaries.” In addition to this, extended breastfeeding helps to protect children from illness, including colds and flu For example, if anyone in our household is sick, I pump and save the antibody-rich milk for later to give everyone a “shot” should we become sick again.
Support from Medical Providers
Keep in mind that the AAP also suggests that “Mothers who choose to breastfeed beyond the first year need support from their medical care providers, as well as protections against workplace barriers.” When you’re looking for a pediatrician make sure they are breastfeeding-friendly. You want a pediatrician who isn’t going to force formula if it’s not needed. Additionally, your personal healthcare providers should also share the same views. You need support at every front.
Stigmas that Moms Face for Extended Breastfeeding
Despite the AAP guidelines, many mothers still face judgment for extended breastfeeding – even from their own family members.
A study done in Australia found that: “More than two-thirds (68%) of Australian mothers who breastfeed beyond 12 months report experiencing stigma and discrimination, with nearly one-third (31%) experiencing this daily.”
This stigma can come in the form of unsolicited advice, dirty looks, and even being asked to leave public places.
How You Can Support Moms Who Breastfeed Beyond Infancy
If you see a mother breastfeeding her toddler in public, make sure to give her a smile or even a compliment! Showing support for breastfeeding mothers will help to break down the stigma and make them feel more comfortable doing something that is best for their child.
How Dads Can Help Breastfeeding Moms: 10 Ways to Get Dad Involved
It’s okay to breastfeed your toddler – the AAP says so! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you see a mother breastfeeding her toddler in public, show her your support!
Myths That Breastfeeding Beyond a Year Isn’t Beneficial
One of the biggest myths about extended breastfeeding is that it’s no longer beneficial after a certain age. This simply isn’t true – there are plenty of benefits to breastfeeding beyond 1 year.
According to the AAP, some of these benefits include:
- Protection against diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancers of the breast and ovaries
- A stronger bond between mother and child
- Improved nutrition for the child
- Protection against illnesses
If you’re a mother who is considering extended breastfeeding, don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not beneficial! The AAP guidelines say that it’s perfectly fine – and there are plenty of benefits to doing so.
Best Tips to Help Moms Breastfeed Longer
If the end goal is to help support moms, then breastfeeding moms will need ALL of the support that they can get! There are a few key things that can help moms breastfeed longer:
Ensuring your baby has a proper latch is essential for comfortable breastfeeding and avoiding pain. An Ideal latch is when the baby’s mouth covers not just the nipple but also a good portion of the areola. This allows the baby to get a good amount of milk with each suck and also stimulates the breast to continue producing milk.
Another important factor in maintaining a good milk supply is frequent feedings. When a baby cluster feeds or goes through growth spurts, it signals the body to produce more milk. Allowing babies to breastfeed as often as they want during these times will help increase milk production.
Pump when needed
Sometimes it’s necessary to pump, whether it’s to relieve engorgement or to maintain a milk supply while away from the baby. Pumping can also help to increase milk production.
There are many resources available to help moms who breastfeed, from online support groups to in-person lactation consultants. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you’re struggling with anything related to breastfeeding.
Breastfeed Your Toddler – A List of Products to Help Breastfeeding Moms
The following is a list of products that can help breastfeeding moms with their toddlers. Of course, all of these products are optional, but they may help your breastfeeding journey last longer than you ever thought possible.
- Comfortable nursing chair or stool: This will help you be comfortable while nursing your toddler.
- Good nursing pillow: This will help support your back and arms while nursing.
- Nursing pads: These can help prevent leaks while you are nursing.Breast pump: This can be used to pump milk for your toddler if you are not able to nurse him or her directly.
- Storage bags or bottles: These can be used to store breast milk for later use.
The above products can help make breastfeeding your toddler a more comfortable and convenient experience. Breastfeeding your toddler can provide many benefits for both of you, so it is worth taking the time to find the products that will work best for you and your situation.
More Tips from AAP About Breastfeeding Your Toddler
The AAP recommends that mothers breastfeed their toddlers until they are at least 2 years old. Here are a few more tips from the AAP about breastfeeding your toddler:
- It’s important to continue to offer your toddler breast milk even after he or she starts eating solid foods. Breast milk provides many nutrients that solid foods don’t, and it can help your toddler feel fuller longer.
- You may need to adjust your breastfeeding routine as your toddler gets older. For example, you may need to nurse for shorter periods of time or more frequently.
- Toddlers can be very active, so it’s important to find a comfortable position that works for both of you. You may need to experiment a bit to find what works best.
- Be prepared for your toddler to nurse more frequently during times of illness or stress. This is perfectly normal and is actually one of the benefits of breastfeeding – that breast milk can help boost your toddler’s immune system.