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why breastfeed a toddler?

(89 Posts)
workstostaysane Fri 16-Feb-07 13:41:12

i'm hoping to bf till a year or so. dd is now 7 months but after reading some threads am just wondering why people bf toddlers. surely they get all their nutritional needs from a well balanced diet by then? why continue?

compo Fri 16-Feb-07 13:42:14

health benefits
WHO recommends up to 2 years now I think

themoon66 Fri 16-Feb-07 13:42:23

I don't know, but my two both weaned themselves around 7 to 9 months of age. I didn't really have a choice.

schneebly Fri 16-Feb-07 13:42:24

maybe they like the bond?

babypowder Fri 16-Feb-07 13:49:34

I fed DD1 until she was 2.9. Some of this was down to lazineses on my part, as it was just the easiest way to get her to settle, to comfort her and to keep her happy. She just wasn't prepared to wean completely, and I enjoyed the snuggly time.

She also had dairy and egg allergies, so continuing to BF meant that I could ensure she was getting additional goodness that wasn't soy-based! (I continued to eat dairy and eggs, and it didn't bother her)

Will probably do the same with DD2.

emkana Fri 16-Feb-07 13:52:43

because it's nice
because it has lots of health benefits
because it's a sure-fire way out of a tantrum

workstostaysane Fri 16-Feb-07 13:55:18

have heard the rather vague 'health benefits' argument but was hoping someone might know some specifics. doesn't the WHO recommend 2 years because if you are not feeding a well balanced diet, then breast milk is the best way to get all the nutrients they need? so, if yr living in circumstance where you can get them the diet they need, you don't need to bf - except for comfort, allergy issues and the like...?

serenity Fri 16-Feb-07 13:56:24

because she still wanted to
because she refused both formula and cows milk

dd self weaned at 2.1

Leda Fri 16-Feb-07 13:57:55

Why not?

emkana Fri 16-Feb-07 14:02:47

Well IMO comfort and allergy issues are already perfectly valid reasons in itself, but as for the health benefits, maybe look here for lots of info

Tatties Fri 16-Feb-07 14:15:08

Because toddlers often don't feel like eating and it's nice to know they are getting bmilk to fill in any gaps.

Because you don't need to worry about dehydration/not eating when they are ill.

Because it would be traumtic to stop.

Because I couldn't get ds to sleep otherwise.

Because it is a great cure-all for bumps and tantrums.

For me it's mainly because I can see that ds still needs it on so many levels.

IamPotty Fri 16-Feb-07 14:24:39

Because it´s convenient if you can still do it? Toddlers still need the equivalent of c 1 pint of milk a day don´t they, why not include a bit BM?

Muminfife Fri 16-Feb-07 14:29:37

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Muminfife Fri 16-Feb-07 14:33:06

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Tatties Fri 16-Feb-07 14:35:48

Muminfife - "how about because they are naturally geared up to feed for that long? human babies are meant to b/f for their toddler years. they just are."

Yes yes yes! But some babies do naturally self-wean much earlier don't they? Why do you think that is?

lemonaid Fri 16-Feb-07 14:49:02

The reason I do it is that DS likes it. I get "Feed, mummy! Feed! Feed feed feed feed." etc., etc. If I'd tried to cut him off from breastfeeding there would have been major tantrums and I couldn't see a reason to do that unless there were a good reason not to keep breastfeeding. Any time he wants to stop now is fine with me, and they do self-wean in the end.

For the specific health benefits:

In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL 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

Dewey KG. Nutrition, Growth, and Complementary Feeding of the Breastfed Infant. Pediatric Clinics of North America . February 2001;48(1).

Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers.

Gulick EE. The effects of breastfeeding on toddler health. Pediatr Nurs . 1986 Jan-Feb;12(1):51-4.

Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation. In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year.

Goldman AS, Goldblum RM, Garza C. Immunologic components in human milk during the second year of lactation. Acta Paediatr Scand . 1983 May;72(3):461-2.

Increased time spent bf also offers some protection for the mother against breast cancer:

Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. Breast cancer and breastfeeding: collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 47 epidemiological studies in 30 countries, including 50302 women with breast cancer and 96973 women without the disease. Lancet. 2002 Jul 20; 360(9328): 187-95.

Furberg H, Newman B, Moorman P, Millikan R. Lactation and breast cancer risk. Int J Epidemiol 1999;28:396-402.

Ing R, Ho JHC, Petrakis NL. Unilateral breastfeeding and breast cancer. Lancet July 16, 1997;124-27.

Jernstrom H, et al. Breast-feeding and the risk of breast cancer in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004 Jul 21;96(14):1094-8.

Layde PM, Webster LA, Baughman AL, Wingo PA, Rubin GL, Ory HW and the cancer and steroid hormone study group. The independent associations of parity, age at first full term pregnancy, and duration of breastfeeding with the risk of breast cancer. J Clin Epidemiol 1989;42:963-73.

Lee SY, Kim MT, Kim SW, Song MS, Yoon SJ. Effect of lifetime lactation on breast cancer risk: A Korean Women's Cohort Study. Int J Cancer. 2003 Jun 20;105(3):390-3.

McTiernan A, Thomas DB. Evidence for a protective effect of lactation on risk of breast cancer in young women. Am J Epidemiol 1986;124:353-74.

Newcomb PA, Storer BE, Longnecker MP, Mittendorf R, Greenberg ER, Clapp RW, et al. Lactation and a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer. N Eng J Med 1994;330:81-7

Reuter KL, Baker SP, Krolikowski FJ. Risk factors for breast cancer in women undergoing mammography. Am J Radiol 1992;158:273-8.

Romieu I, Hernández-Avila M, Lazcano E, Lopez L, Romero-Jaime R. Breast cancer and lactation history in Mexican women. Am J Epidemiol 1996;143:543-52.

Siskind V, Schofield F, Rice D, Bain C. Breast cancer and breastfeeding: results from an Australian case-control study. Am J Epidemiol 1989;130:229-36.

Tao S-C, Yu MC, Ross RK, Xiu K-W. Risk factors for breast cancer in Chinese women of Beijing. Int J Cancer 1988;42:495-98.

United Kingdom National Case-Control Study Group. Breastfeeding and risk of breast cancer in young women. Br Med J 1993;307:17-20.

Yoo K-Y, Tajima K, Kuroishi T, Hirose K, Yoshida M, Miura S, Murai H. Independent protective effect of lactation against breast cancer: a case-control study in Japan. Am J Epidemiol 1992;135:726-33.

Yuan J-M, Yu MC, Ross RK, Gao Y-T, Henderson BE. Risk factors for breast cancer in Chinese women in Shanghai. Cancer Res 1988;58:99-104.

Zheng T et al. Lactation and breast cancer risk: a case-control study in Connecticut. Br J Cancer 2001 Jun;84(11):1472-6.

Zheng T et al. Lactation reduces breast cancer risk in Shandong Province, China. Am J Epidemiol 2000 Dec 15;152(12):1129-35.

and ovarian cancer:

Gwinn ML, Lee NC, Rhodes PH, Layde PM, Rubin GL. Pregnancy, breastfeeding and oral contraceptives and the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. J Clin Epidemiol 1990;43:559-68.

Hartge P, Schiffman MH, Hoover R, McGowan L, Lesher L, Norris HJ. A case control study of epithelial ovarian cancer. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1989;161:10-6.

Rosenblatt KA, Thomas DB, and the WHO collaborative study of neoplasia and steroid contraceptives. Lactation and the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. International J Epidemiol 1993;22:192-7. Schneider AP. Risk factor for ovarian cancer. N Engl J Med . 1987 Aug 20;317(8):508-9.

and uterine cancer:

Brock KE et al. Sexual, reproductive and contraceptive risk factors for carcinoma-in-situ of the uterine cervix in Sydney. Med J Aust . 1989 Feb 6;150(3):125-30.

and endometrial cancer:

Rosenblatt KA, Thomas DB, and the WHO collaborative study of neoplasia and steroid contraceptives. Prolonged Lactation and endometrial cancer. Int J Epidemiol 1995;24:499-503. [I think this may only apply to lactational amenorrhea, though, although I'm not sure]

and osteoporosis:

Blaauw, R. et al. Risk factors for development of osteoporosis in a South African population. SAMJ 1994; 84:328-32.

and rheumatoid arthritis:

Karlson EW, Mandl LA, Hankinson SE, Grodstein F. Do breast-feeding and other reproductive factors influence future risk of rheumatoid arthritis? Results from the Nurses' Health Study. Arthritis Rheum . 2004 Nov;50(11):3458-67.

It's also great for calming down from tantrums (when they get to the I'd-really-like-to-stop-this-tantrum-now-but-I'm-all-overwhelmed-by-my-emotions stage).

Muminfife Fri 16-Feb-07 14:52:49

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terramum Fri 16-Feb-07 14:53:35

Because its normal! Read up on lots of mammals & you will find that they feed their young milk well into their equivalent toddler years.

Kellymom has an excellent section on "extended" (or natural term as I like to call it!) bfing....and you might be interested in Kathy Dettwylers writings.

Feeding a toddler is great - DS still feeds to sleep so my evenings are really easy, is easy to calm if he has a tantrum & I know if hes ill/off his food he is still getting enough nutrients etc. Its also great to know my health will be better as well - the longer you bf for the less likely you are to have certains cancers, osteoporosis etc.

PrettyCandles Fri 16-Feb-07 14:54:01

Benefits not restricted to the baby. Extended bfing reduces a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.

TheBlonde Fri 16-Feb-07 15:02:20

I fed DS til 17 mths or so
Didn't aim or plan to feed that long but it worked for us and I didn't see any reason to stop before then. In the end he selfweaned as I was pregnant

morningpaper Fri 16-Feb-07 19:25:22

It's just so good for them - such a PERFECT food

When they are just living on chocolate buttons and pizza, a bit of breastmilk makes me feel less guilty

VeniVidiVickiQV Fri 16-Feb-07 19:30:44

Why not?

Lio Fri 16-Feb-07 19:33:43

Wow lemonaid, I shall keep a bookmark on that one

sfxmum Fri 16-Feb-07 19:48:53

because it is part of the way i choose to parent, and it is nice and annoys MIL

fireflighty Fri 16-Feb-07 20:28:40

It really does make more sense to ask the question "why stop?" rather than "why go on?", because that reflects the situation of people breastfeeding toddlers. You don't find yourself needing ever to make a positive decision to breastfeed a toddler, because that's what you end up doing by default after a breastfed baby starts toddling. What seems to happen is that many people who expected to stop breastfeeding by six months, or a year (like you!), or whenever, find themselves reaching that point, then debating a specific date and style of stopping, and then find that they haven't really got a strong enough reason to stop - or at any rate no reason strong enough to outweigh the advantages they've found to breastfeeding at that stage (the health advantages, the occasional comforting, the reconnecting after a day apart, etc.). So they go on, often ending up breastfeeding for perhaps two or three or four or more times as many months as they originally planned to. Anecdotally, most people I know who breastfed their first child into toddlerhood or beyond - the vast majority - originally expected to have stopped by six months or a year or whatever. It's then only with their second child that they've known from the start they'll probably feed that child into toddlerhood. So really what's happened is a lot of people have ended up asking themselves the question "why stop now?", and haven't found a convincing enough reason to do so.

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