When to stop breastfeeding

When should a mother stop breast-feeding her child?

Although most pediatricians consider a year the ideal, many infants will wean themselves earlier than that. But there are no “prescriptions” for the duration of breast-feeding. Some mothers continue nursing beyond the first year because of the special closeness that can be enjoyed at feeding time. But there are some other good reasons not to necessarily give breast-feeding short shrift.

Breast-feeding can protect against conditions such as diarrhea and ear infections by boosting your baby’s immune system. Also, since breast milk is 100 percent natural it’s far less likely to cause feeding intolerance than artificial formula.

In moms, breast-feeding allows for a more rapid return of the uterus to its prepregnancy state. Also, because of the calories required for breast-feeding, nursing moms find it easier to shed their extra pregnancy pounds.

Keep in mind that regardless of whether they’re breast – or formula-fed, babies should be introduced to solid foods when they reach 4 to 6 months. Solid foods add needed calories, and because infants at 6 months outgrow the iron supply they were born with, they’ll need iron-fortified infant cereal. Children should also try to drink from a cup by the time they’re 7 or 8 months old simply because they’re ready to use this newly acquired skill.

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