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Research reveals the benefits of extended breastfeeding your toddler and beyond.

Evidence shows it has a number of benefits and very few drawbacks, reports ABC news.

Data recently published from Deakin University studied families between 2008 and 2010, and found at 18 months old 10 per cent of children were still breastfed, and that reduced to 1 per cent at 3.5 years.

Data from the 2006-2007 Longitudinal Study of Australian Children study shows at 24 months 5 per cent of children were still breastfed.

La Trobe University breastfeeding expert Professor Lisa Amir said most families heard the message about the benefits of breastfeeding for six months, so they felt 12 months was a long time.

“The message that WHO [the World Health Organisation] recommends ongoing breastfeeding in the second year is rarely discussed,” she said.

Breastfeeding counsellor with the Australian Breastfeeding Association Renee Kam said more women might breastfeed for longer if it was culturally acceptable.

“It’s common place in other parts of the world to see older children breastfeeding and people just see it as normal,” she said.

“But in westernised cultures like ours, it is something that is not seen and things that aren’t seen tend to make people feel a bit uncomfortable … It’s biologically normal just not culturally.”

Dr Amir said continuing breastfeeding meant optimal nutrition for the child, including providing long-chain fatty acids, immunoglobulins for immunity and a convenient way to settle an unhappy toddler.

Breastfeeding has long been associated with positive outcomes for children, such as higher intelligence, better gut health, and stronger immune systems.

What are the benefits of extended breastfeeding?

•Your milk will still give your child the benefits of your antibodies and pass on immunity to bugs you have been exposed to.
•Feeding your older child can give them a lot of comfort and reassurance, and will allow you to continue with all the lovely physical bonding that breastfeeding can provide.
•Weaning when your child is older may make the whole process a lot easier and let it come to a natural close rather than an arbitrary and abrupt end.
•Feeding can be used to calm your child down and give some instant comfort and security.

Recently a UK Mum who is still breastfeeding her five-year-old daughter, claims it has saved her thousands.

Related – THIS UK Mum claims breastfeeding her six year old will make her smarter

Share your comments below.

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  • I have no problem with women wanting to breastfeed their children for extended periods but there should be a limit to where they breastfeed as their child gets older. I knew someone who was still breastfeeding her children who were 3 & 4 but it was very uncomfortable for people as they would walk up to her, pull down her shirt and start feeding. This used to happen a lot in the small shop she worked in. There is a time and place for all things.

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  • What a load of rubbish! It teaches your child not to be independent and it is just weird and socially unacceptable. Plus it is cause for those awkward moments when your child can ask for ‘boobie’ and how do you teach them about the lines that exist and what is appropriate and not if they are still hanging off your boob? What happens when they start primary school- are you going to pack them a bottle? Show up to the school at recess and pop one out?

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  • It is up to the individual I guess.

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  • My milk dried up when my son was nearly two, was one sided for awhile before that, then he cried for ‘mama milk’ for a week every night but was happy to go straight to a sippy cup of rice milk. No formula, no dummies, or bottles. Babies don’t need all the extra stuff just mums milk as long as possible, either the milk will run out or they will wean, let nature takes its natural course. I wish it was more acceptable in society to breast feed longer. It is up to women to normalize it.

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  • I breast fed my youngest until he was two, but only before bedtime at night at that point. I loved breastfeeding and found it comforting for both my children and myself along with the health benefits of course.

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  • Glad with articles like this as I’m a believer of extended breastfeeding. My so breastfed until he was 5, at that point only before bed.

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  • I would have loved to have exclusively breastfed all of my children and I see no issue with extended breastfeeding at all. It’s the personal choice of the mother and if the baby is fed and content then who are we to judge.
    My youngest is 8 months and breastfed on demand, I breast and bottle fed her older sister until almost two years. But by the two year mark she only fed to go down for her daytime sleep.

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  • I would have given anything to have been able to breast-feed my son for longer, but he went himself at seven months. I think it’s great if the child is happy abd healthy and the mother is happy then why not ?

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  • No problems to breastfeeding for longer if it is possible. My milk dried up far too early for me to continue although the kids would have liked to continue.

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  • Love this article!! Such a strong believer of extended breastfeeding or even better feeding to term. Breastfeeding toddlers needs to be normalised

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  • Each to their own but I’m not a fan of breastfeeding older children.

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  • Some little ones give up of their own accord. I know one Mum whose mild supply slowly dwindled but she managed to give her toddler one or two good feeds a week for a few weeks and a bottle for other feeds until her baby lost interest. One advantage then was she was able to eat food she loved that her baby reacted to. She suddenly realised she had more freedom too. After she became a Single Mum she decided it would also save her a few dollars for other better quality food.

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  • I really have no issues at all with any mother feeding as long as she wants, provided, she isn’t forcing it on any child who doesn’t want to breastfeed anymore. She isn’t harrassing other mothers to do it when they don’t want to. And she isn’t doing it because someone has guilted her into it and she doesn’t really want to.

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  • Yes I agree with the benefits, but as the mother, it can be a huge tie having a child dependant on something only you can provide, meaning no option of leaving them with grandparents overnight on a special occasion. Also the mother has spent 9 months pregnant, breast fed for perhaps 12 months – sometimes we just want our body back to our own, not all touched out all the time. That being said, I have no end date in mind for my nearly 1 yr old, I follow their lead, my first gave it up at 18 months himself. Great work to any mom who breastfeeds for any amount of time.

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  • I personally stopped when my daughter was one year and one week old and we were both fine with it. Weaning her came with no drama at all.
    But if someone feels good breastfeeding for longer… why not? :-)

    Reply

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