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Unfortunately, the question “how long should a mother nurse her baby?” does not have an easy answer. Advice given by people, whether its doctors, a breastfeeding counselor or your mother, it is confusing and contradictory. Everyone you talk to has different advice for you. Combine this with the fact that every mom & baby are different, and you have good reason to be wondering what is the best thing to do. Breastfeeding is by far the best way to feed your baby.

Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby’s development for the first year or more Breast milk changes as your baby grows and is the only food needed for the first 4 to 6 months.  So does that mean you should only breastfeed for the first 4 to 6 months and then stop? Wean your baby at one year? Yes? No? Maybe?

I encourage all moms to at least start breastfeeding as it is best for your baby! No formula can duplicate what “mother nature” has given you. How long? Each mother and baby are unique so only you know the answer to that question. For me, I breastfed my first child only for the first four months and then weaned her on to a bottle. I only did so because of the stress I was going through at the time and didn’t feel she would benefit from the amount of stress and worries I was dealing with at the time. We still bonded over a bottle and had our “alone” time but now that I’m pregnant with my second, I plan on breastfeeding for at least a year or until the baby gets teeth. After a year though and when the baby has teeth, I think is a bit too long although in places outside of the U.S., some mom’s breastfeed until the child is 4-5 yrs.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least one year or for as long as mutually desired by mom and baby.

If you’d like to read more about this topic and hear what other moms are saying, read the article published in this month’s Hudson Valley Parent, “To breastfeed or not to…” By Claudia Caruna.

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