The Benefits of Extended Breastfeeding

toddler

She’s at it again. Our little Miss H, the “babester” is happily nursing away as we start to think about unwinding for the night. Miss H isn’t a little infant swaddled up, though. As I mentioned in the last post, she’s a busy toddler who is still benefiting from breastfeeding.

While no one disputes the many benefits that breastfeeding offers to infants, many in our society are unaware that older babies and toddlers also are aided through continued breastfeeding. Knowing about the positives to extended breastfeeding is a real boost of confidence for a mom who gets more negative responses when others find out she’s still nursing her walking child! 

Extended breastfeeding is a boost of nutrition for growing minds and bodies.

According to a study cited on this very helpful article from Kellymom, 15 ounces of breastmilk can provide a toddler with

29% of energy requirements, 43% of protein requirements, 36% of calcium requirements, 75% of vitamin A requirements, 76% of folate requirements, 94% of vitamin B12 requirements, 60% of vitamin C requirements. -Dewey, 2001

That’s a lot of concentrated nutrition for a little growing person! Breastfeeding is certainly a wonderful addition or foundation to a toddler’s diet.

Extended breastfeeding helps the developing immune system.

Study after study has continued to show that babies, toddlers, and young children benefit from the antibodies that are in breastmilk. Of course these nursing little ones will still get their bouts with upset tummies, coughs, and runny noses, but the rate of more serious complications from disease is greatly reduced when breastfeeding. Illnesses also tend to not last as long when breastfeeding is still part of the toddler’s diet.

toddler

Extended breastfeeding quiets and calms an upset child.

Toddlers are notorious for their tantrums and emotional outbursts. They are learning so much, trying so many things, and realizing that there are many limitations placed on them, all while they are still learning to communicate verbally. Is it any wonder that their little systems overload sometime?

While disobedient behavior should never be rewarded, the comfort of nursing can really do wonders to calm an overly upset child and even lessen the number of tantrums. Breastfeeding reinforces the mother-child bond and can give the little one a much-needed dose of security, while helping the mom to be more in-tune to her child’s needs.

Extended breastfeeding benefits the child’s overall health.

Nursing children over a year old doesn’t just boost their immunity. It has many other blessings for the developing body! An increase in cognitive skills and intelligence has been linked to extended breastfeeding due to the high fat content that is so crucial to brain development. Teeth tend to come in straighter because of the oral movements made when nursing. Less constipation, better vision, healthier skin, and more have all been linked to extended breastfeeding. The World Health Organization has even suggested that all breastfeeding mothers continue until two years or later in order to give their children a healthy start on life. The benefits that we hear so much about during the first year continue on during the second or third!

If you’d like more information, I highly recommend looking through these links. I found them very helpful and think that you will, too!

Linked up at: Modest Monday, The Better Mom, Mama Moments, Raising Arrows, Teach Me Tuesday, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Titus 2sday, Tuesday Baby Link Up, Healthy 2day Wednesday, Encourage One Another, Homemaking Link Up, Wise Woman Link Up

25 comments on “The Benefits of Extended Breastfeeding

  1. Tammy says:

    I’m especially enjoying the flashback photos of the little ones :)

  2. Gudrun B says:

    more power to you! all my children weaned themselves
    the first with the “change of taste” of my milk when i was pregnant again
    the second when number 3 was in the making (only did not verbalize a change in taste, but my supply must have dwindled …)
    the third when she was what 5? nursing was still a comfort when she felt bad, was left behind by her siblings, with changes and overseas flights…..
    none of mine were ever seriously ill while the were nursing;
    so yeah it worked very well for us and i never asked Dr Sears or any authority :)

  3. Wonderful post! I wrote a similar one a couple of years ago. I’ve nursed all three of my children for extended periods of time. I weaned my 2 1/2 year old in December. :/ I’m expecting and it got to be too painful for me at the time. I’m looking forward to nursing our newest addition when he/she is born!

  4. I love that you wrote about this. I’ve been in the process of slowly weaning my 2yo…We’re down to mostly just early morning and nap time, but since I know how many benefits he’s receiving I’m not in too much of a hurry. Besides, his snuggles are so sweet and he is so busy the rest of the time!

  5. [...] than get upset or rashly decide to wean, teaching the little one that biting hurts Mommy allows the benefits of extended nursing to continue without sacrificing Mom’s body in the process. When I’ve been bitten by one [...]

  6. Anjanette says:

    Love it! We nursed until 3 with our oldest, 2.5 with our second, and we’re at 9 months with #3. It’s such a blessing, I wouldn’t choose any other way!

  7. Love! This was a good article too! Thanks!

  8. [...] with the extended breastfeeding posts! We’ve had a little introduction, a brief look at the benefits, and a fun look at the challenges. Today I want to share my personal experiences with [...]

  9. I enjoyed remembering those times in my season of breastfeeding. Great reading for me :)

  10. [...] than get upset or rashly decide to wean, teaching the little one that biting hurts Mommy allows the benefits of extended nursing to continue without sacrificing Mom’s body in the process. When I’ve been bitten by one [...]

  11. Michelle says:

    I was able to breastfeed both of my children for over 15 months. I lved every minute of it & took their lead as a cue that they were finished. I also used saved frozen breast milk for an extra boost after they were weaned. If I have another baby, i would make sure I had a larger stockpile to use in so many beneficial ways.

    (Visiting from Tuesday baby link up)

    • That’s a great idea, Michelle! I can’t tell you how many times I had a sick little one who had recently weaned, and all I could think about was how I wished they were still nursing. I’ve never thought about freezing breast milk for times like that!

  12. kara says:

    Thanks for the topic Kristen….I enjoy reading your blog! My experience is somewhat different than yours and others who responded to this post. I formula fed my first for personal reasons that I do not regret, but I did decide to try nursing my second. Nursing directly did not work out but I continued to pump exclusively. I work 40 hrs a week and have a 2 yr old so I have to pat myself on the back for making it 9 1/2 months exclusively pumping for my baby. My goal is to make it to one year and maybe beyond!

    • Hi Kara! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I also give you a pat on the back for pumping so long while working full time! That is a serious commitment for you and certainly a blessing for your baby.

      Thank you for reading! Have a blessed weekend.

  13. My son is two and a half and still enjoying all the benefits of breastfeeding, and so am I. I can hardly imagine parenting at the moment without nursing :)

    Featuring this post on this weeks Tuesday Baby Link-Up! :)

  14. [...] with the extended breastfeeding posts! We’ve had a little introduction, a brief look at the benefits, and a fun look at the challenges. Today I want to share my personal experiences with [...]

  15. Very inspirational. We’re getting ready to have our first child. There is so much to look forward to and decide on! Thanks for the advice and sharing!

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