5 Reasons for Mothers to Ensure That Their Baby’s Breastfeeding Period Lasts Longer
The period between childbirth and weaning is a special time for mothers. This is their time alone with a child that has been growing inside their womb for nine months and an especially great time to bond with them before they grow up.
Breastfeeding is the primary way of providing babies with the essential nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. The World Health Organization recommends that mothers should exclusively breastfeed their children up to at least six months of age.
One health benefit of breast milk includes: “Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by WHO as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.”
Mothers are also recommended to continue breastfeeding their kids in combination with other complementary foods until they are up to two years of age or more. This is as a result of the many health benefits for both the children and their mothers as a result of this process. 
In most cases, the mothers have the exclusive right to decide how long she wants to breastfeed her child and when to start the weaning process. Here are five reasons why you should ensure the breastfeeding phase lasts longer.
1. Breastfeeding gives your baby a stronger immune system
Breastmilk contains a myriad of immunological, biochemical, and cellular contents that don’t only help calm the baby, but also include all the right antibodies necessary to fight off various infections. 
Breastmilk is high in white blood cells, which are immune cells. Extending your child’s breastfeeding will lengthen how long their body receives this immune system boost directly from you.
2. Breastfeeding has positive effects on infant behavior and high-level brain function
The evidence linking breastfeeding to higher intelligence is staggering. In a study published in the National Institute of Health Journal, significantly higher levels of cognitive function were found in breastfed children over formula-fed children aged six to 23 months, and these differences were stable across successive generations. 
Of 40 pertinent publications from 1929 to February 2001, twenty-seven (68%) concluded that breastfeeding promotes intelligence. Although there are many other factors that may impact a child’s intelligent more than breastfeeding, breastmilk does contains essential nutrients, such as DHA, that aid brain development.
3. Breastfeeding ensures your baby has balanced nutrition
Your breastmilk changes to adapt to your child’s development by providing the nutrients they need at every stage. The longer you spend breastfeeding, the more your milk changes to provide better nutrition for your baby’s needs.
A study by the Department of Neonatology in Lis Maternity Hospital, discovered that “human milk expressed by mothers who have been lactating for over a year has significantly increased fat and energy contents, and their contribution to the infant diet might be significant.” 
4. Breastfeeding gives you time to bond with your child
According to a 10-year longitudinal study, women who breastfeed their children longer showed more maternal sensitivity far their kids’ past the infant and toddler stages. This bond is every mother’s dream, and it can help them read their child’s cues and behavior.
“It was surprising to us that breastfeeding duration predicted change over time in maternal sensitivity,” said Jennifer Weaver, PhD, of Boise State University, the lead author of the study. “We had prior research suggesting a link between breastfeeding and early maternal sensitivity, but nothing to indicate that we would continue to see effects of breastfeeding significantly beyond the period when breastfeeding had ended.“
5. Breastfeeding helps your baby sleep better
Sleep is an essential factor for your child’s development, and breastfeeding can improve their sleep-wake rhythms, helping them sleep better. The unique composition of breastmilk changes to include the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep, during the night. This helps improve your baby’s sleep cycle and reduce colic. 
Of course, this is not intended to diminish the bond between a mother who chooses or is unable to breastfeed and her child. Breastfeeding and weaning is a personal choice and it’s up to every mother to choose what works best for her family.
- “Breastfeeding.” WHO.
- “Leukocyte Populations in Human Preterm and Term Breast Milk Identified by Multicolour Flow Cytometry.” NCBI. Stephanie Trend, Emma de Jong, Megan L. Lloyd, Chooi Heen Kok, Peter Richmond, Dorota A.Doherty, Karen Simmer, Foteini Kakulas, Tobias Strunk, Andrew Currie. August 19, 2015.
- “Breast-Feeding And Cognitive Development: A Meta-Analysis.” NCBI. Anderson JW1, Johnstone BM, Remley DT. October 1999.
- “Fat and energy contents of expressed human breast milk in prolonged lactation.” NCBI. Mandel D, Lubetzky R, Dollberg S, Barak S, Mimouni FB. September 2005.
- “Bonding benefits of breastfeeding extend years beyond infancy.” Science Daily. American Psychological Association. October 30, 2017.
- “Human Breast Milk May Help Babies Tell Time Via Circadian Signals From Mom.” The Conversation. Darby Saxbe, Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook. August 5, 2019.