I have interviewed many mothers about "the reason for weaning". Besides the reason of "lack of breast milk", the most common reason for weaning is that "breast milk will no longer be nutritious after eight months" (there are also 6, 7, 9, 10, 12 months), and a similar version is "boy ( Girls) can’t breastfeed for more than ten months (not good for character)”.
I was also impressed by a relative in the family. Her baby has been stopped breastfeeding at 8 months because an elder told her "Your milk is so pale, like water, it is definitely not nutritious. Don't feed it."
It is believed that all breastfeeding mothers are familiar with well-intentioned weaning statements such as “inadequate nutrition”. If someone says this again in the future, you can use this article to respond.
Breast milk can still provide good nutrition for children over one year old
In the first year, the benefits of breastfeeding have been confirmed by numerous studies. One year later, breast milk suddenly loses nutrition, which is logically unreasonable.
Growth history of breast milk
The breast milk in the first few days after giving birth is called colostrum. The nutritional value and immune function of colostrum are not introduced here. The breast milk from five days to two weeks after the baby is born is called transitional milk. At this stage, a large amount of milk is produced to meet the baby's nutritional and developmental needs, and some colostrum characteristics are retained in composition. After two weeks, the breast milk is basically mature, and after four to six weeks, the breast milk is fully mature.
Before the baby's full moon, the composition of breast milk changes rapidly. After that, the composition of mature breast milk is relatively stable, but there are some subtle changes as the breastfeeding period progresses.
Although there are relatively few studies on breastfeeding after the age of two, the existing evidence shows that breast milk is still a good source of nutrition and can continue to provide children with certain health protection.
Breast milk after one year of age contains a higher concentration of total protein, lactoferrin, lysozyme, and immunoglobulin A, while the concentration of zinc, calcium, iron, and oligosaccharides is reduced.
The fat and energy in breast milk expressed by mothers who have been breastfeeding longer have increased significantly.
A study of 250 young children in western Kenya found that mothers’ breast milk can provide an average of 32% of their children’s energy. Breast milk is also an important source of vitamin A and fat for these children.
Breast milk can still provide children with some important nutrients, especially protein, fat, and most vitamins after one year.
In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breast milk can satisfy the child:
29% of energy demand;
43% of protein requirements;
36% of calcium requirements;
75% of vitamin A requirements;
76% of folic acid requirements;
94% of vitamin B12 requirements;
60% of the vitamin C requirement.
Research conducted in rural Bangladesh found that breast milk is still an important source of vitamin A for children in the second and third year.
The above research evidence shows that breast milk after one year of age can still provide children with many beneficial nutrients, let alone eight months. After weaning, what food can be used to make up for these nutritional losses?
Using "weaning of breast milk" to increase the amount of complementary food is a risky move
It is quite common to persuade children who have added complementary foods to wean, but research does not support this. Breastfeeding children may indeed suffer from malnutrition, but it is mainly due to improper or insufficient supplementary foods, and should not be attributed to insufficient breast milk nutrition. Studies have found that although weaning breast milk will allow children to eat more complementary foods, the increased amount of complementary foods is not enough to compensate for the nutritional loss caused by weaning breast milk. If the supplementary food is not ideal for breastfed children, we should find ways to increase the types of supplementary foods to make eating complementary foods more enjoyable and increase the child's appetite, instead of cutting off the child's existing high-quality source of nutrition-breast milk.
Once weaned, there is no way to recover it again. Do you want to be like this?
Whether it is to increase the amount of food supplement or to allow the child to receive formula milk, it is safer to enrich the child's food supplement before weaning, let the child receive other dairy products, and then gradually reduce breast milk.
Breastfeeding after one year of age can still provide immune protection for the child
Antibodies in breast milk are abundant throughout the breastfeeding process. In fact, the concentration of immune factors in breast milk will become higher (more concentrated) in the second year and during the weaning process because of the decrease in milk volume (Lawrence & Lawrence 2011, Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991). For example, breast milk after one year of age contains higher concentrations of lactoferrin, lysozyme, and immunoglobulin A (Perrin 2016). These ingredients are related to the child's immunity.
It is stated in a document of the World Health Organization that increasing breastfeeding rates can reduce the mortality rate of children under five by up to 10%. Breastfeeding is of great significance for the treatment and prevention of childhood diseases.
Breastfeeding helps children's intellectual development
A large number of extensive studies have found that children who breastfeed for longer have better cognitive development. Although this makes many mothers who have to be weaned early uncomfortable.
We can certainly say that heredity is the most important. Compared with genetics, what you eat is not worth mentioning; acquired education is more important. Compared with education, how long you drink breast milk is not worth mentioning.
We can also think that such research results are not true. But "your breastmilk is no longer good, it is better to drink formula milk", which is obviously unreasonable.
I have been breastfeeding for 26 months. The reason why I continue breastfeeding is not because of intellectual growth: if it helps, of course, it is good. If not, I will still feed. The reason is simple, because the child wants to drink breast milk, I am also willing to breastfeed. I know it’s harmless to her and it may be good, why not continue breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is beneficial to children's mental health and social development
In fact, when writing this article, what I want to say most is that for many mothers like me who have been breastfeeding for a long time, we insist on feeding, we are not so concerned about the good nutrition of breast milk, how much health protection it can bring to children, or how to improve intelligence...
Isn't psychological needs important?
In my personal experience, after one year of age, whenever a child is sick, injured, or sad, I am thankful that I am still breastfeeding.
"Don't give your children soothing milk."
"Don't sleep with milk."
"You can be weaned after six months. If you don't, you must be weaned after one year."
More and more experts suggest that the soothing function of breastfeeding should be separated, and breastfeeding will become a pure feeding behavior.
However, breastfeeding is not just a simple feeding behavior. A very important function of breastfeeding is to soothe the baby's emotions and enhance the intimate relationship between mother and baby.
Why do we have to look at feeding behavior so utilitarianly, as if a child is a bag of food, we must put the best nutrition in it. The psychological needs of children are always deliberately ignored. Why not treat the child as a person of flesh and blood?
Breastfeeding is the warmest and most loving way to meet the nutritional and psychological needs of children. For a little baby, it doesn't matter what kind of bad things happen. As long as there is a mother's breast, the world is still gentle and beautiful. When giving injections and blood draws to my baby, I always hope to do it while breastfeeding or to get the nipple immediately after the injection. This is mother's magic, and there is no way to soothe it.
When doctors or experts say coldly: "We need to be weaned at night after six months, and must be completely weaned after twelve months", their advice can only take into account the physical needs of the child. But as far as breastfeeding is concerned, every mother and child is special. You may know your situation better than others.
Take my daughter as an example. We visit the dentist regularly. We use fluoride toothpaste to brush our teeth in the morning and evening. The child’s diet is also very healthy, without high-risk foods such as juice, sweet drinks, and candies. Although we fed night breast milk, her risk of tooth decay was not high. On the other hand, the person who persuaded the weaning of night breast milk could not hear my daughter's cry of collapse. He might say that crying is inevitable. But he can't empathize with our psychological pressure.
Many people use night breastfeeding to increase the risk of tooth decay to advise weaning at night. In fact, there is not enough evidence to support this claim. The "Guidelines for Infant Oral Health Care" of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry pointed out that breastfeeding does not cause tooth decay in infants, but bottle feeding at night may increase the risk of tooth decay. After 12 months, breastfeeding more than 7 times a day may increase the risk of tooth decay. The biggest risk factor for tooth decay in the diet is a frequent high-sugar diet, including fruit juice, formula milk, carbonated drinks, etc.
I have to say something about the baby asleep with the breast milk. It only takes a few minutes to drink breast milk to make sleepy children fall asleep sweetly. Why is the child’s favorite way of falling asleep "wrong", and it is "right" to let them cry and fall asleep?
You and your baby are a special pair. You know each other’s needs best, and you are the best person to make decisions. Trust your own judgment.
As a mother with a second child, if raising my first child has given me any experience, my experience is that many "expert opinions" lacking theoretical support have brought me a lot of pressure. Treat your children with love, empathy, and common sense, instead of using a certain stereotype.
Some studies have found that breastfeeding time has a positive effect on children's psychological and social development. (Duazo 2010, Baumgartner 1984)
Breastfeeding not only provides nutrition and energy to children, but also allows them to grow up healthily. Breastfeeding can also relieve frustration, reduce the pain caused by collisions and bruises, and relieve the endless pressure that children often face. Breastfeeding helps children to smoothly move from infancy to childhood emotionally. (Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq. in “Extended Breastfeeding and the Law”)
Meeting children's attachment needs is a key factor in helping children achieve independence. Our attachment today is for better independence tomorrow. Children have their own unique growth schedule. Children who let them become independent step by step at their own growth rate tend to feel more secure than children who are forced to be independent.
Moms also benefit from longer breastfeeding time
There are many related studies, and mothers actually benefit from longer breastfeeding, such as delaying ovulation, reducing breast cancer, reducing the risk of uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer, and reducing the risk of osteoporosis (no need for calcium supplements, The mother’s bone density will recover and become higher after the lactation period is over), reduce rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes...
It is normal to breastfeed a child after one year old
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that as long as mothers and babies are willing, breastfeeding should continue for at least one year... Prolonged breastfeeding can bring important health and development advantages to mothers and children... There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding, and there is no evidence that continuing breastfeeding after the age of three will harm the child's psychology or development.
The American College of Family Physicians recommends that breastfeeding should continue for one year. And as recommended by the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Family Physicians believes that breastfeeding continues to be a more ideal practice after one year. However, breastfeeding after one year of age is not common in American culture, and continuous support and encouragement are needed for mothers. It is estimated that the natural wean time for humans is from two to seven years old. Family doctors should be aware of the benefits of prolonged breastfeeding for children, including continued immune protection, better social adaptability, and appropriate food in critical situations. The longer women breastfeed, the lower their risk of breast cancer. The American Academy of Family Physicians also stated that if children are weaned before the age of two, they are more likely to get sick.
The Breastfeeding Medical Association affirmed that breastfeeding after infancy is a biological feature. The average weaning age of children around the world ranges from six months to five years old. There is no medical or scientific basis to say that breastfeeding after one year of age is harmful to the mother or the child. The practice of early weaning in modern society may be harmful. Human breast milk contains nutrients, antibodies, and regulatory components. Longer breastfeeding time may reduce breast cancer, uterine cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
It is fortunate for babies to be able to drink breast milk after two years of age (Novello 1990). The Australian community’s support for breastfeeding is pretty good. Compared with the various weaning talks when I returned to China, every time my doctor or nurse knew that my daughter had been breastfeeding for 26 months, they would exclaim: You did a great job! Your daughter is so lucky!
The World Health Organization has repeatedly emphasized the importance of breastfeeding until two years of age or later (WHO 1993, WHO 2002).
Studies have shown that breastfeeding for 2.5 to 7 years is the time that the biological design of human babies should reach (Dettwyler 1995).
Children are weaned at different ages. It does not matter how much breast milk the baby drinks. Even if you breastfeed for a short time and are weaned at 6 months, 8 months, 2 years, or 3 years old, the whole process will be considered the best start. As long as weaning is the best decision you think, go ahead and make it. However, if someone says that your breast milk is no longer nutritious and should be weaned, you can also confidently tell him,
"My breast milk is well nutrition, thank you for your concern."