Weaning Your Breastfed Baby
How Long Should You Wait Before Weaning?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breast feeding should continue
for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired
by mother and child.
In fact, prolonged nursing may have some important benefits beyond maintaining
a strong emotional bond. In studies conducted in Western Kenya, Africa,
researchers found that breastfeeding for at least two years had a positive
association with growth, particularly in impoverished areas.
Other studies show that the longer a baby breastfeeds, the greater their brain
development. In fact, some evidence shows the longer the baby breastfeeds, the
sooner they accomplish "milestone" tasks, such as walking and
"In my experience, babies who are breastfed until they are toddlers are
more sociable, they are happier and better adjusted children. Most have a very
high IQ and they seem to be overall very well-rounded children," says
As a result, many lactation experts say prolonged nursing is OK -- as long as
both baby and mom want it that way.
"This is a personal decision and it should be made by the mother," says
Hodge. Aponte agrees to a point. Once a toddler reaches age 2, Aponte
encourages mothers to stop breastfeeding -- and most comply.
"If you're done it for two years, then you have more than given your baby
an excellent start in life," he says. "At that point weaning is
probably a good idea."
Note in developing countries, as well as in some European nations,
breastfeeding a child until age four or five is acceptable and considered
normal. Some experts in the U.S. say that this could become the norm here as
well if breastfeeding becomes more widely accepted.