The World Health Organization (WHO), advises mothers to engage in exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months in order for newborns to grow and develop. WHO recommends continued breastfeeding - known as extended breastfeeding - until about the age of 2.
Likewise, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists suggests only breastfeeding for the first six months of life and encourages continued breastfeeding with the introduction of complementary foods up to age 1 or longer.
Despite the medical advantages of breastfeeding for mother and child, U.S. breastfeeding rates are only 49 percent at six months and 27 percent at 12 months, which is well below the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2020 target rates.
And while sometimes seen as unnatural (and uncomfortable to witness in public), extended breastfeeding can be beneficial up to age 4, according to doctor-led parenting site Bundoo. However, most American moms wean their child from breastfeeding by age 1.
- Breastfeeding toddlers don't get as sick as their peers
- Moms reduce the likelihood of high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and heart disease
- Both mom and toddler form a deep-rooted bond that can helps the toddler become more socially well-adjusted.
- The older toddlers get, the harder it can become to wean them.
- Nipple pain
- Infertility for the mother
- Over attachment and long-term malnutrition for the child.