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Breastfeeding for more than a year: ¿social misunderstanding or lack of information?

A recent study carried out by researchers Amy Brown and Sally Dowling states that the biggest problem of breastfeeding after the year is social and professional rejection. Something that is certainly incomprehensible, given that the longer the lactation is, the greater the benefits it brings to the baby.

When the baby is twelve months old, he  can already have a separate diet without breast milk. The Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP) in its recent report on prolonged lactation states that milk is a very complete and nutritious food for an older baby and its quality is higher than formula or cow’s milk.

In fact, this milk supply after 12 months of age provides greater protection at the immune level, having a lower infection rate and a lower incidence in some types of cancer (such as childhood leukemia) or metabolic and autoimmune diseases (such as diabetes Type 1).

In addition to these, there are other significant benefits for the baby such as:

– Better emotional and psychosocial development

– Better relationship with parents in adolescence

– Better mental health in adult life

– Better cognitive development

– Emotional benefits

Surely someone told you once: “If you continue breastfeeding your baby when he is one year old, then he will have trouble sleeping and he will wake up all the time at night.” A study published by the Journal of Sleep Research affirms that babies who breastfeed beyond four months sleep better and there is no significant difference in the number of nighttime awakenings compared to breastfed babies. This fact is added to the long list of benefits that prolonged breastfeeding offers to babies.

Breastfeeding is the nutritional factor that most influences the long-term health of the baby and this has been shown in different studies. As I have previously commented, social misunderstanding along with the need for immediate employment and misinformation about its benefits are the main factors that make the vast majority of mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies up to six months.

Within this context, current society and culture offers a limited view of accepted, breastfeeding practices and therefore, these types of practices continue to be frowned upon or criticized. The final decision on how long to breastfeed your baby belongs exclusively to you and your partner. For this reason, I always recommend you inform yourself about the real benefits of each practice and see how it can affect your baby. Remember, breast milk will always will be the best possible nutrition your baby can receive.

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