All the leading experts - the World Health Organization, Health Canada, Dietitians of Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society - recommend breastfeeding for two years or longer.
It has many benefits for both you and your child.
Benefits of Breast Milk for Your Toddler:
- Excellent source of nutrition.
- Best type of milk for young children.
- Helps prevent colds, ear infections, and other infections.
- Helps your toddler develop healthy teeth.
- May help prevent diabetes, heart disease and obesity later in life.
- May improve brain development (higher IQ).
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom:
- Decreases the risk of certain cancers.
- May decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
- Costs less than formula.
- Is convenient and time saving (no bottles).
- Is environmentally friendly (no waste).
As your toddler grows, she will learn to feed herself solid foods more and more independently. This begins the natural process of weaning. When she is ready, she will begin to wean herself from breastfeeding.
You do not have to wean her, it occurs naturally — she will gradually stop breastfeeding at her own pace. Allowing your toddler to decide when to stop:
- Lets you both adjust more easily to the end of your breastfeeding relationship.
- Lets your body reduce the amount of milk it produces in a natural way, preventing your breasts from becoming overfull and uncomfortable.
When Breastfeeding Stops
If you need or want to stop breastfeeding before your toddler decides it's time, try not to rush the process. Weaning gradually helps your body adjust. Here are some tips to help make weaning as comfortable as possible for you and your toddler:
- Plan ahead: Choose a non stressful time to start. Beginning to wean your toddler on your first day of work or childcare, or during a move, can add to the stress of these situations.
- Start slowly: Replace one feeding every day for the first week. You may wish to pick the feeding that provides the least comfort for your toddler. This is often the late afternoon feeding. To provide enough nutrition, replace the skipped feeding with expressed breast milk and food.
- Skip one more: After one week, or when you feel comfortable, replace one more feeding.
- Continue to skip: Keep replacing one feeding per week with food and other fluids.
- Last to go: Last of all, replace the feeding that provides the most comfort. Often these are the morning and bedtime feedings. When you're ready to stop these last breastfeedings it may help to have your partner or another family member take over the routinesfor a while.
- Be ready to give more comfort and cuddles: You may be looking forward to fewer demands on your time and energy when you stop breastfeeding. However, this most likely won't be the case. Your toddler may need even more attention and love during and after weaning.
Resources & Links:
HealthLink BC: Weaning