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. If you are a new mom, consider breastfeeding longer than the first few months. Here are seven benefits you and your baby get from extended breastfeeding.
1. Immunity Boost
One of the top benefits babies get from breastfeeding is a boost in immunity. Most moms know about the immunity protection young infants get during the first months of life through breastfeeding. 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 perfectly 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.
3. Bonding Benefits
The bond between a new mother and her baby is often strongest during the first few months when breastfeeding typically occurs. Babies who are breastfed are often comforted by their mother’s milk, and the extended time they get with their mothers can have lasting effects on their relationship.
4. Higher IQ
Research shows a link to extended breastfeeding and higher intelligence. Babies who were breastfed longer scored higher on intelligence tests and had more career success as adults. As the children grew up, they took advantage of more educational opportunities and earned higher incomes than other children who had not been breastfed as long. Scientists believe this was caused by the extended exposure to fatty acid DHA, which is found in breastmilk and supports brain development.
5. Helpful to Social Development
Social and emotional development are essential parts of a baby and
6. Support Healthy Postpartum Weight Loss
Breastfeeding for a longer period of time is not just beneficial to your baby. It can also provide mothers with some healthy bonuses. One of the biggest struggles of being a new mom is getting back in shape after pregnancy. Many new moms have found breastfeeding has allowed them to lose weight more effectively during the first few months. Breastfeeding burns lots of calories, and extended nursing can help keep that weight loss going beyond the first year.
7. Better Maternal Health
Mothers can benefit from other health boosts by continuing to nurse past the infant stage of life. Some studies have shown breastfeeding helps lower the risk of certain cancers. Breastfeeding may also help improve cardiovascular health and bone health. In some cases, it may also help prevent pregnancy and stop a woman’s periods.
Extended breastfeeding is becoming more common and accepted as more parents realize how beneficial it can be to both mother and baby. In many societies around the world, it’s normal to see toddlers breastfeeding. If you want to give your baby the strongest boost in her first years, extended breastfeeding may be the best way to do it.