The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a new set of recommendations for breastfeeding. The recommendations include two primary points:
- Babies should be breastfed exclusively for 6 months.
- Breastfeeding should be continued, with other foods introduced as supplements at 6 months, for as long as mother and baby want to continue, to 2 years or beyond.
The recommendations include both breastfeeding and bottle feeding with human milk, recognizing that mothers may not be able to be with their babies all the time. “More than 80% of women initiate breastfeeding in the United States, and both federal and state laws protect a woman’s right to breastfeed, as well as the right to breastfeed in public and to continue breastfeeding or to express milk in the workplace,” the statement reads. “With most women choosing to breastfeed, breastfeeding has been established as the cultural norm in the United States.”
One common response to the recommendations is alarm that the new recommendation is to breastfeed for two years. “The guidelines, if followed explicitly, could take the breastfeeding parent out of the workforce for two years, per child,” wrote Elizabeth Skoski at Good Housekeeping.
But the AAP points to the Healthy People goals for 2030; to increase the proportion of children who are exclusively breastfed to 6 months and the proportion who are still breastfeeding at one year.
The recommendations support moms who want to continue nursing their babies past one year. “The goal of this policy is to support optimal health and nutrition for the child and mother and support parents in meeting their breastfeeding goals,” the AAP statement says. “Individual decisions about family feeding should be made by the family with their pediatrician’s guidance.”
Breastfeeding has some real advantages.
- Human milk is perfectly nutritious for human babies.
- Breastfeeding protects babies against diseases. Breastfed babies have lower rates of SIDS, ear infections, asthma, and obesity, as well as fewer infections.
- Breastfed babies have been found to have better brain development.
- Breast milk is always ready, clean, and waste-free.
- Breastfeeding is good for mothers, too. Moms who breastfeed have less chance of diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.