How Long Is Breast Milk Good For?

how long is breast milk good

Mother’s milk is the best food for babies. Even after a C-section doctors encourage mothers to breastfeed the babies as soon as possible. Only when there is no adequate breast milk, the formula is recommended for the babies. Many support groups let mothers in need get donor milk for babies from other nursing mothers. But, how long can a baby depend on a mother’s milk? Till 6 months, breast milk is enough without additional supplements.

In a few cases, after the completion of 4 months, doctors might approve going for solids for babies. From the time of introducing solids, it is recommended to decrease breast milk, and keep increasing solids gradually. If you keep producing breast milk and want to know how long you can feed your baby the same, get to know a few important facts here.

What happens when you breastfeed for a long?

  • Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, followed by breastfeeding for 1 year along with solids is necessary, recommends The American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • WHO recommends continuing breastfeeding for 2 years along with appropriate complementary solid foods.
  • Experts also say that the more the baby is breastfed, the greater the protection against various illnesses.
  • Breastfeeding brings down the chances of meningitis, ear infections, and diarrhea. The symptoms of these illnesses in babies who are breastfed are lesser.
  • It also reduces the chances of SIDS, asthma, diabetes, and obesity.
  • It is also proved that breastfeeding is also good for the mother’s health. The longer the mother breastfeeds the more protected against breast cancer she is.
  • Moms who breastfed for long have a lower risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart ailments.

Pro Tip: Babies who are breastfed exclusively gain weight faster in the initial months, compared with the ones who take formula milk. Also, after introducing complementary foods, their weight gain is slower.

What is the right time to wean?

how long is breast milk good for?

With so many benefits of breastfeeding for moms and babies, what is the right time to stop breastfeeding? There is no such time as the apt time to wean.

  • Many mothers are judged for breastfeeding even after 2 years of age. It is between the pair of mom and baby to decide when to stop breastfeeding.
  • While few studies conclude breastfeeding after 2 years or more does not have an impact on immunity and development, still, they haven’t called it a futile attempt.
  • A few feel that continued breastfeeding even after the baby is 24 months old, might be a biological cue between the mom and baby, and they wean after a certain stage.
  • In short, it is the individual choice of the mother and baby to go for weaning.

Only if the baby avoids taking complementary solids and asks for breast milk only, then it is necessary to think of weaning after 1 year. Else, the mother can decide to breastfeed even after 2 years.

What is the breastfeeding frequency after 2 years?

If you have decided to breastfeed your baby for more than 2 years, then you must know the frequency. While breastfeeding still can let your child enjoy nutrition, complementary solids are mandatory after 6 months. So, the feed frequency should be reduced accordingly.

  • After 1 year old, the baby needs just 3 to 4 feeds daily, and the quantity is 360 to 800 ml per feed.
  • For babies above 18 months old, the 3 feeds daily are enough. The quantity varies between 360 to 600 ml.

In fact, after 2 years, breast milk production too can see a decrease in most moms. The thumb rule is to follow the cues of the baby.