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How long should I breastfeed my baby?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

It is best to give your baby only breast milk for the first six months of life. This means not giving your baby any other food or drink — not even water — during this time. Drops of liquid vitamins, minerals, and medicines are, of course, fine, as advised by your baby's doctor. It is even better if you can breastfeed for your baby's first year or longer, for as long as you both wish. Solid iron-rich foods, such as iron-fortified cereals and pureed vegetables and meats, can be started when your baby is around six months old. Before that time, a baby's stomach cannot digest them properly. Solids do not replace breastfeeding. Breast milk stays the baby's main source of nutrients during the first year. Beyond one year, breast milk can still be an important part of your child's diet.

This answer is based on source information from National Women's Health Information Center.

For optimal nutrition for your infant, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends exclusive breast feeding for the first six months to provide optimal nutrition and health protection, and breast feeding with complementary foods from six months until at least 12 months of age. 

Dr. Deborah Mulligan, MD
Pediatrician

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least a year, with the addition of “complimentary” solid food by six months. Every situation is different. Each baby is different. The answer is until  both Mom and baby are ready to stop.  

Many women prefer to wean more slowly, even when their babies cooperate fully. Breastfeeding provides closeness between mother and baby that’s hard to duplicate any other way and sometimes Mom may be reluctant to give up that special intimacy. Some babies lose interest between nine and twelve months, as they learn to drink from a cup. In fact, many breast fed babies never use a bottle, but wean directly to a cup.  
 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.