Most parents know how beneficial breastfeeding can be to their young infant, but there is increasing research and information from pediatricians that tout the benefits to breastfeeding longer than the first year. Today, more mothers are breastfeeding their infants during those first few months of rapid brain development. As their baby gets older, the number of breastfeeding mothers decreases due to societal pressure, work commitments and solid foods.
While the decision to breastfeed longer should be up to the mother, here are seven benefits you and your baby get from extended breastfeeding.
1. Immunity Boost
One of the top benefits to babies is a boost in immunity. Newborns are often too young to get some vaccinations, and their mother’s milk can provide some protection against disease. Pediatricians and researchers are also finding out more about how extended breastfeeding can offer additional immunity beyond the first year. Breastmilk is packed with powerful antibodies that are passed to your child. Some studies have shown these antibodies increase during extended breastfeeding.
2. Protection Against Obesity
Breastfeeding also offers some protection against childhood obesity. Research has shown that babies who are breastfed have a better ability to regulate their food and avoid overeating. Breastmilk is also nutritionally balanced for developing babies and toddlers, preventing them from getting food that is too sugary or too high in calories. Toddlers are often vulnerable to overeating once they are weaned with the addition of cow’s milk and sugary snacks to their diets. With extended breastfeeding, toddlers can continue to get added protection from obesity.