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.
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!
- Breastfeeding Past Infancy Fact Sheet from Kellymom
- Breastfeeding Past Infancy Links from Kellymom
- Extended Breastfeeding from La Leche League
- Ask Dr. Sears on Extended Breastfeeding
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