How Long Should I Breastfeed?

How long should i breastfeed for?” you might be asking if you’re reading this. The long, short answer is:

The short answer is as long as you and your baby want to! But don’t take my word for it… The AAP says, “there is no upper limit on the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychological or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the 3rd year of life or longer.” There you have it! The answer to how long should I breastfeed for.

mother breastfeeding baby outside

***I do not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content from the Christella Photography Blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information that is provided above and below are on this blog are intended for general consumer understanding and entertainment only. The information provided is not intended to be substituted for professional medical advice. This article is to enlighten you about all the benefits of breastfeeding from the start until whenever your end is. I’m writing this to encourage all mothers and to provide knowledge about breastfeeding and start an open conversation with your providers. This is also written for encouragement to normalize breastfeeding because it IS normal, even if over 2 years of age. If you’d like to read more about these topics, I’ve listed all professional sources at the end of this blog. Please talk to your family doctor or pediatrician for professional medical advice.***

There’s is a myth that after a child turn’s one, breast milk becomes unnecessary and no longer provides them with any nutrients…

This is absolutely not true. As long as you continue to breastfeed it will continue to be a valuable source of nutrition.

After age 1 it’s true that breast milk shouldn’t be the only source of nutrition for your child and the child should start eating more solids but continuing to breastfeed will help make up for the lack of nutrients that sometimes busy toddlers don’t get.

Breastfeeding isn’t just for the baby’s health, it’s for the mothers too…

“The longer an infant is breastfed, the greater protection from certain illnesses and long-term diseases. The more months or years a woman breastfeeds (combining breastfeeding of all her children), the greater the benefits to her health.” Says the

black mother breastfeeding daughter

Breastfeeding health benefits to the mother include:

The recommendation is a minimum of 6 months to an infinite maximum…

According to the World Health Organization, infants should be exclusively breastfed for their first 6 months of life to achieve their optimal growth, development and health. Breastfeeding also helps their never-ending change in nutrition needs. Breastmilk changes to what your baby needs throughout their growth.

How amazing is that?

It’s magical.

If you’re pumping, you might be able to see your milk changes colors and that’s why! There have been reports of milk changing colors when the baby is sick too!

"Breastfeeding should continue for up to two years or beyond."

black mother in a white dress sitting in a field of yellow flowers breastfeeding her daughter in northeast ohio

Breastfeeding protects infants from childhood illness and lowers their risk for many things in the future…

This one is so important to me:

  • Breastfeeding your infant and/or your toddler can protect them against sickness and will continue to boost your child’s immune system (Peer-Reviewed Studies: ABCD)
  • The longer you breastfeed the less likely your child is to have ear infections (also known as otitis)
  • They are less likely to have upper respiratory infections
  • If your child gets sick, breastfed children tend to have a sickness for a shorter duration and a mother’s milk can help them feel better (and again, it gives them the nutrition they need to get better!)
  • There are a lot of factors that contribute to obesity, like behaviors or genetic predisposition, but breastfeeding your babies is a large factor in making your child less likely to be overweight or obese when they are older (Peer-Reviewed Studies: ABC)
  • They are less likely to have type-II diabetes
  • The proteins in breastmilk are also easier for the baby to digest, making it gentle on the digestive system (Peer Reviewed Studies: ABC)
  • “It is safe and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia, the two primary causes of childhood mortality worldwide.” According to

little blue-eyed girl in a field of yellow flowers touching a flower and looking at the camera in bay village ohio

Breastfeeding can help you both through the “terrible twos” phase…

We all know now that breastfeeding increases the mother-child bond, and that couldn’t be any more precious. But to me, this information is the cherry on top: researchers have found that since breastfeeding means more interaction with your child and bonding time, that your child is learning more about acceptable and appropriate behaviors, which also means less behavior problems. Wow!

Dr. Sears has also stated that he has noticed this with the toddlers that come to his practice.

Another amazing fact about breastfeeding through this time is that breastfeeding is baby reading. It allows a mother to be able to understand what their child needs and be able to read their cues better. This means mom can intervene before a meltdown happens.

I don’t think you can avoid the “terrible twos” or a meltdown all together, but it will sure make everyone’s days happier and even quieter!

Breastfeeding can help your child become more independent…

I know, this one seems unreal and backwards. But low and behold, Dr. Williams Sears said in a long-term study on children who were able to self-wean on their own time were more independent and interested in people rather than things. Pushing them into something they may not want yet or are not ready for only creates a clingier and more dependent child. We should be allowing our children to reach milestones at their own pace rather than pushing or forcing them to do so. The more you encourage your baby, the better, but do not push or force them.

"The most secure... and happy children we have seen are those who have not been weaned before their time."
– Dr, Sears (author of The Baby Book)

mom holding daughter up while standing in a field of yellow flowers in lakewood ohio

A babies first teeth are called “deciduous teeth,” also known as milk teeth…

They are the first set of teeth in the growth development of humans and mammals. They develop during the embryonic stage and start to be visible during infancy. Primary teeth are needed in the development of the mouth. They maintain: arch length in the jaw, the bone and the permanent teeth replacements, which develop from the same tooth as the primary teeth do. Primary teeth provide guides for permanent teeth. Primary teeth are important for the development of the child’s speech, smile and chewing of food. You can read more about milk teeth HERE.

A couple other quick facts…

  • Breastfeeding saves you time and money! No money spent on bottles, formula or cleaning supplies for them!
  • Your milk is always the perfect temperature
  • It helps keep your toddler full and hydrated during their very busy life
  • The WHO, The AAP, UNICEF, American Academy of Breastfeeding and American Academy of Family Physicians all say there are plenty of benefits to continue breastfeeding beyond the age of 2
  • Almost all mothers produce the right amount of milk for their baby according to UNICEF.ORG
  • There’s no evidence that it is more difficult to stop breastfeeding after one year of breastfeeding, but there is evidence that breastfeeding at least two years, or more is beneficial for mother and child

If you want to help, make the job of breastfeeding a little easier for the next generation than continue to proudly nurse even if it seems "abnormal" to others. #NormalizeBreastfeeding

black mother breastfeeding child outside in a field of yellow flowers in lakewood ohio

Here’s a list of my sources for this article and a great place to read more breastfeeding facts:


Ready for more Cleveland Motherhood content? Then don’t skip over the blog links below!

Ohio Birthing Centers to Help Make Your Birth Experience Great!

Top 3 Ohio Pediatric Dentists That Make You Feel Like Family!

Are you a mother looking for local breastfeeding support in a local, uplifting community with mothers just like you AND breastfeeding professionals? Join my NE Ohio Breastfeeding Mothers Group on Facebook! Can’t wait to meet you!