The new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) breastfeeding recommendations says two years or longer with exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months.
“The AAP supports continued breastfeeding, along with appropriate complementary foods introduced at about six months, as long as mutually desired by mother and child for two years or beyond.”
The most recent guidance is an update from 2012, and at that time breastfeeding recommendations were to continue breastfeeding for one year or longer. The update more closely aligns the AAP breastfeeding recommendations with those of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Breastfeeding Recommendations Now Say 2 Years or Longer
There are so many reasons to breastfeed your baby. Nutrition during the first two years is very important, and breastmilk is perfectly formulated for your baby’s brain development and long-term health.
7 benefits of breastfeeding according to the AAP:
- Improves the health of mothers and their babies
- Can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by up to 64%, and up to 40% overall infant deaths
- Easy for your baby to digest and has all the nutrients, calories, and fluids your baby needs
- Can help protect your baby against lower respiratory tract infections and severe or persistent diarrhea, asthma, eczema, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, leukemia, oral malocclusion and dental caries
- Can increase IQ in babies
- Does not need to be prepared and no cost
- Provides warmth, closeness, and bonding opportunities between mother and baby
AAP says there are continued benefits from breastfeeding beyond one year, and up to two years, especially for the health of moms. This includes protection against diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancers of the breast and ovaries.
The new guidance also calls on birth centers, hospitals, and pediatricians to help improve breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity. Before leaving the hospital or birthing center, the AAP recommends asking for help to make sure your baby is latching on properly and getting enough milk during breastfeeding. Pediatricians should increase their knowledge of the health benefits of breastfeeding and implement supportive practices in their office. They should also partner with community resources, such as lactation specialists.
Having a good support system is crucial for breastfeeding success and meeting these new recommendations. Find information about La Leche League and how it can help, read about common breastfeeding problems and treatments related to breastfeeding, and check out must-have breastfeeding products that will help set you up for success.
Read more about new breastfeeding recommendations in the “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk” policy statement and technical report.