What does extended, full term, long term or sustained breastfeeding mean to you? Does it mean breastfeeding longer than 6 months? A year? Two years?
What are the views of health professionals and organizations?
From the World Health Organization: “WHO strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. At six months, other foods should complement breastfeeding for up to two years or more.”
From the American Academy of Pediatrics: “The American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.”
From UNICEF: “It is well recognized that the period from birth to two years of age is the “critical window” for the promotion of good growth, health, and behavioral and cognitive development. Therefore, optimal infant and young child feeding is crucial during this period. Optimal infant and young child feeding means that mothers are empowered to initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth, breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and continue to breastfeed for two years or more, together with nutritionally adequate, safe, age appropriate, responsive complementary feeding starting at six months.”
In my opinion, I think all of those terms mean breastfeeding any amount beyond infancy.
For many people, however, breastfeeding for any extended amount of time, makes them feel uncomfortable. I think this is because they are not aware of all the benefits to the mother and child. So, what are some of the benefits of breastfeeding your toddler?
from Kellymom.com (http://www.kellymom.com/store/freehandouts/extended_bf_factsheet.pdf):
There is no right or wrong cut off age for breastfeeding your child. So feed your child for a day, a month, a year, or five years! Do whatever works for your family!