Is It Normal To Breastfeed A 3-Year-Old Child? Dr Pooja Marathe Shares Her Views

Is It Normal To Breastfeed A 3-Year-Old Child? Dr Pooja Marathe Shares Her Views

24 Jun 2022 | 4 min Read

Sayani Basu

Author | 491 Articles

Are you worried that continuing to breastfeed your child for longer will make the child dependent on you and may not grow out of it? 

When mums start breastfeeding, they probably don’t have a timeline in mind of how long they are going to continue it. They are just trying to make it through the sore nipples, sleeplessness, and marathon nursing sessions. So it is normal for mums to worry and wonder about how long they should breastfeed their child since more mums around the world now believe in weaning their babies early. 

According to studies, breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight, and are less prone to diabetes later in life. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for the first two years of life. 

But what about extended breastfeeding? Can you breastfeed kids older than three years? Read on to know more.

Does Extended Breastfeeding Have Any Benefit?

Breast milk contains antibodies that protect the little one against many common childhood illnesses. It provides all the energy and nutrients that the baby needs. Plus, all of the health and developmental benefits of breastfeeding continue for your child for as long as you nurse. Some of these are:

  1. Nutrition: Breast milk is a powerhouse of minerals, vitamins, and proteins that feed and protect your little one.

Even though your toddler is consuming a variety of other foods, breast milk helps to complete your child’s nutrition. It continues to provide your child with fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

Breast milk contains antibodies and a host of healthy immune-boosting factors. | Image Source: pexels
  1. Immunity: Breast milk contains antibodies and a host of healthy immune-boosting factors.

Even children above two years benefit from breast milk as it acts as the immune protection that passes to them through breast milk. 

Studies have also shown that children who are breastfed longer get sick less often and have shorter periods of illness compared to non-breastfed children.

Plus, when your toddler is sick, breastfeeding is comforting and can help prevent dehydration.

  1. Future health benefits: According to research, breastfed babies and toddlers enjoy all sorts of health perks when they grow up. These include lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol.

They are also less prone to be overweight or obese, and to develop type-2 diabetes.

  1. Comfort and security: Breastfeeding is calming and relaxing and can help your toddler to cope with fear and stress.

As your child becomes more independent and begins to venture into the world, it’s comforting for them to know that they can return to the safety and security of nursing in their mother’s arms. This in turn is related to the psychological development of kids.

Dr. Pooja Marathe, Community Expert – Lactation & Nutrition says, “You can continue to breastfeed your baby as long as you and the little one wish to continue. It has a plethora of benefits like boosted immunity and improved health for the little one.

What About Nighttime Nursing?

Many toddlers continue to want to nurse at night which is normal. If nighttime nursing works well for you, just go for it.

If it doesn’t, you can begin weaning your child at night. You can also substitute nighttime sessions with water, a back rub, or other soothing techniques.

Even if night weaning isn’t working, you can consider trying again in a few months, when your child is more ready.

Your decision about whether to nurse long-term is one that you should feel empowered to make on your terms as it is a personal choice. | Image Source: pexels

Key Takeaways

Breastfeeding after your child is two years old has been a taboo for several years. Fortunately, the tide seems to be turning. Celebs like Mayim Bialik, Salma Hayek, Alanis Morissette, and Alyssa Milano have all shared their experiences of breastfeeding to 12 months and beyond and have helped normalise the experience.

Your decision about whether to nurse long-term is one that you should feel empowered to make on your own terms as it is a personal choice.

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