How long should you breastfeed?

May 09, 2013 by

How long should you breastfeed?

Whether you're a first time mother or you're in search of single mother help, one question is common regarding breastfeeding: How long should you actually nurse a child?

With these helpful tips, you can gain insight into breastfeeding and the length of time you should devote to caring for your infant in this way.

How common is breastfeeding?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 73.9 percent of individuals in the country are breastfed, of whom 43.4 percent are still being nursed at 6 months old.

Breastfeeding can be a great way to deepen the bond you share with your little guy or gal, and it can also enhance the health and well-being of infants because breast milk is filled with vital nutrients. It should be done within an hour of birth and done on demand for infants. For mothers, breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risks of breast and ovarian cancers.

When it comes to determining when to stop breastfeeding, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding be done for at least 12 months. However, the World Health Organization encourages mothers to breastfeed children for as long as they like, which can extend up to 2 years and beyond. 

Breastfeeding and celebrities
While breastfeeding is hardly a new trend, celebrities are making headlines by not only embracing this ritual, but also doing it for longer than some other mothers may.

Mayim Bialik of "The Big Bang Theory," who has been an advocate in the past for attachment parenting, quickly became the talk of the town when she revealed that she believes in extended breastfeeding. Specifically, Bialik breastfed her son until he was 4 years old.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss being able to latch him on and make it all better. We have other ways to soothe Fred now," Bialik wrote on Kveller, a Jewish website.

Among other tenets, attachment parenting encourages mothers to allow kids to nurse until they feel independent and ready to be weaned.

According to Bialik, she nursed her son during the evenings, and while she wouldn't nurse him wherever he wanted, she did strive to ensure his physical – and emotional – needs were all met.

And Bialik isn't the only Hollywood mom who has breastfed for longer than people typically expect. Former "Wonder Years" actress Danica McKellar recently noted that she's just weaned her 2 ½-year-old son, Draco, and that she's a big proponent of lengthy breastfeeding!

"[Draco] still asks for it sometimes, but he's ready to be independent," McKellar told Us Weekly magazine. "He asks, but only in the morning when he's still half asleep. He doesn't ask during the day at all."



About
Lizzie Goodman is a writer living in the Midwest. Since becoming a mom, she's learned to do everything one-handed, often while letting her baby daughter pull her hair and poke her in the face. She believes in the strength and power of women - and really enjoys writing about pregnancy and motherhood.
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