Breastfeeding babies up to two years of age and beyond, with the addition of appropriate complementary foods, is recommended by Health Canada.
There are a number of benefits of breastfeeding baby beyond six months of age, including:
- supports ongoing growth and development of your baby’s brain, gut, and other organs
- continues to reduce childhood illness and infections, as children are commonly exposed to illnesses through other children and at daycare
- promotes ongoing attachment between mother and baby
- helps children become more independent and secure
- reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes
- decreases mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer
- saves the family money
Breast Changes After Six Months
After breastfeeding for six months, a mother’s breasts may feel and appear softer, smaller and less full – this is normal! Mothers will continue to produce enough milk for their baby. As well, breastfeeding intervals may become shorter – this means that baby has learned to take the amount of milk needed in a short period of time.
Infant Teething While Breastfeeding
Just because baby is teething, doesn’t mean it is time to wean. When baby is breastfeeding correctly, it will not be painful for the mother. If mothers have questions or concerns about baby biting while breastfeeding, they can contact the Health Unit to speak with a Family Health Nurse.
A nursing strike happens when a baby or toddler who has been breastfeeding well suddenly refuses to breastfed. This is not the same as weaning, as weaning typically happens over a gradual period of weeks or months. Nursing strikes can happen for a variety of reasons, including a mother changing her deodorant, soap, or perfume, a mother being under stress, or a baby has an illness or injury that makes breastfeeding uncomfortable (ear infection, stuffy nose, thrush). Other reasons may be a recent change to the breastfeeding pattern, baby has sore gums from teething, or mother frightened the baby when she reacted strongly to being bitten while breastfeeding.
How to Get Baby Back to the Breast
- be patient and remember that the baby is not rejecting the mother
- get extra help with household chores and older children
- relax and concentrate on making breastfeeding a pleasant experience
- comfort the baby by cuddling, stroking, and providing skin-to-skin contact
- offer the breast when baby is sleepy or asleep
- breastfeed in a quiet room with the lights dimmed
- try rocking or walking while breastfeeding
- expressing breastmilk to keep your milk supply up
- stimulate the let-down reflex and get milk flowing before offering the breast
- feed baby expressed milk with a cup, eye-dropper, syringe or spoon
- seek medical attention if an illness or injury seems to have caused the strike
- get help – Family Health nurses at the Health Unit can answer questions about feeding baby