I have not read the article yet (but I am very interested to), however I have read a number of comments about the cover photo. There have been a lot of comments about how it’s perverted to breastfeed a child that long, and how once a baby can hold it’s own bottle, or starts eating solids, or has teeth or whatever, there is no need for breastmilk anymore.
All opinions about extended breastfeeding aside, I want to clear something up for everyone right now. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life, and at six months you should introduce solids while still continuing to breastfeed, which should last until the child is at least one year old, and as long thereafter as is mutually desired by mother and child. This means that, yes, children do need breastmilk even after they can hold a bottle, have teeth, and have started eating solids. The American Academy of Pediatrics, a conservative body representing the vast majority of pediatricians in the United States, says so. Furthermore, if you are to stop giving a baby under the age of one breast milk at any time or for any reason, breastmilk must be replaced with, and only with, formula. In other words, if you’re not going to give your baby breastmilk, you must give it synthetic breastmilk. You are not to introduce cows (or goat, or sheep, or yak, or any mammal besides human) milk until the child is more than one year old, and you should hold off longer if your family has a history of dairy allergies or lactose intolerance. This includes dairy products like cheese, ice cream, and butter.
This is a very conservative position for breastfeeding, and it’s the one that the AAP has taken for years now. The World Health Organization also states nothing but breastmilk for the first six months, but they say nursing in conjunction with solids should last at least until the child’s second birthday. In any case, every expert in the world agrees that babies still need breastmilk, or at the very least, formula, for a long while after they start solids, have teeth, and can hold a bottle.
And while we’re discussing what babies should eat, I think it needs to be mentioned that while formula is the only suitable replacement for breastmilk for any baby under the age of one, formula still is vastly inferior to breastmilk. Many women (myself included) need it to some degree, especially in the United States, so thank God it’s there, but it is still an inferior food to breastmilk, and feeding it to your child does not come without risks. Risks of formula include increased risk of ear infections, illness, diabetes, obesity, allergies, and a host of other short and long term health problems. You should only make the switch from breastmilk to formula if you absolutely have to, if the risks of not feeding your child formula outweigh the risks of feeding it to your child. It should never be done because some pervert thinks breastfeeding is doing something sexual with your six month old. All of us should be breastfeeding as much as we can for as long as we can, shooting at least to meet the AAP’s guidelines for optimal infant feeding.
Anyone stating that babies need to be weaned any time before they turn one needs to go take a look at what doctors have to say about it. Babies need breastmilk or a synthetic breastmilk for the entire first year of their life AT LEAST.
Personally, I am glad I nursed Elijah as long as I did. Given that I had to supplement with formula after I went back to work, I’m glad I gave him the benefits of breastmilk (I supplemented when he was in daycare, and nursed when we were together) until he self weaned at age two. Had he wanted to, I gladly would have nursed him to three years old and beyond. I will nurse my next baby as long as he or she wants as well, for at least one year as the AAP recommends, and as long thereafter as is mutually desireable for us both.
Guess my baby stats!
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