Overcoming the views of societal "norms" and what's best for your growing baby
A mom on my birth board asked this morning if it was ok to give her 18 month old bottles of her breastmilk. She was concerned about the "effects of breastmilk on toddler's bowels". It seemed quite strange to me that someone could not know that human milk is the best milk for human babies regardless of age. Yes, an 18 month old is still very much a baby. I went searching for a link to provide her showing that major world health organizations recommend breastfeeding until at least two years of age, and that the benefits last well beyond that. The UNICEF link states
Optimal breastfeeding practices include exclusive breastfeeding (breastmilk with no other foods or liquids) for the first six months of life, followed by breastmilk and complementary foods (solid or semi-solid foods) from about six months of age on, and continued breastfeeding for up to at least two years of age while receiving complementary foods."At least two years of age" That's a 24 month minimum that a child should be receiving mother's milk.
When I hear about doctors telling moms to wean so the baby will eat more solid food, I always want to ask them (the docs) what foods they had in mind as being nutritionally and immunologically superior to breast milk -- I mean, are we talking about hot-dogs here?
The benefits of nursing a toddler are many. Nursing toddlers have been shown to have fewer allergies, are sick less often, be better socially adjusted, and are smarter. Breastmilk is far superior to cows milk nutritionally for babies of this age as well. In the second year (12-23 months) 448ml (about 15oz) of breastmilk provides:
- 29% of energy requirements
- 43% of protein requirements
- 36% of calcium requirements
- 75% of vitamin A requirements
- 76% of folate requirements
- 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
- 60% of vitamin C requirements
Here is an article you may find interesting. It is by Katherine Dettwyler, PhD, Professor of Anthropology at Texas A&M. She studied our closest primate relatives to form a conclusions on when the "natural" age for humans to wean would be. According to her research, 2.5 to 7 years would be optimal time for us to wean.
And as always Kellymom has some great information for us: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/ebf-links.html
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