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Breastfeeding 101: When Should You Stop?

December 4, 2023

When a woman gets pregnant, she transforms into a mother at that very moment. A bond that forms when the pregnancy test comes positive, lasts for a lifetime and through the nine months of nurturing the baby inside her womb, every stage adds to this beautiful relationship.

When the baby arrives in this world, all the pain and anxiety sort of blur out. The little face, toes, and fingers magically create a sense of maternal instinct that no other relationship can even come close to. Through the course of parenting, this relationship takes several flavors. Right from the first time the baby holds his or her mother’s fingers, to the first time they look at the mother and smile, from their first words to the first time they walk, every single activity with the baby and every single milestone keeps adding to this enriching experience.

One of the ways in which new mothers bond with their babies is through breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the most recommended and natural way of taking care of a baby’s nutritional needs, but it goes much beyond that. Breastfeeding is more than an activity; it’s when the mother’s instincts are at the peak - when they hear the baby cry, they know it’s time for them to feed them.

Of course, apart from being an emotion and a bond between the mother and the baby, breastfeeding serves several other purposes also.

Typically, doctors recommend that a baby should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of its life. With a sensitive digestive system, babies find it easier to digest breastmilk. It is known to be one of the best sources of nutrition as well. However, as babies grow older, their nutritional needs grow too and breast milk might not be sufficient on its own.

Book an appointment to consult Dr. Madhavi R for Pediatric concerns.

Benefits Of Breastfeeding

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From the age of six months, babies should be introduced to solid foods and a mother might want to begin weaning their babies off but it is not necessary to stop breastfeeding altogether. Here are a few things to keep in mind about breastfeeding after babies turn six months old.

  1. A baby’s inclination towards solid food might or might not be good. Breastfeeding is a great way to make sure that despite starting solids, your baby’s nutritional needs are met. When babies start solids, they take time to get used to the tastes and textures and might reject certain foods because of which there are chances of them being underfed. To prevent this from happening, breastfeeding can be continued.
  2. Breast milk is known to be a great source of balanced nutrition. So, even if babies are starting on solid foods, there is no harm really in continuing to breastfeed. In fact, breast milk also helps boost immunity, hence breastfeeding beyond six months should pose no problem at all.
  3. Breastfeeding is a boon for mothers too. It reduces the risk of ailments like breast and ovarian cancer, blood pressure, diabetes, and even arthritis.

Why Some Mothers Would Want To Start Weaning

Once babies start solids, many mothers would consider weaning. If you are confused and don’t know if you want to initiate this process, here are some reasons for you to explore.

  1. If your milk supply is insufficient and you notice that your baby is hungry even after being fed, you might want to consider weaning or looking at complementary alternatives.
  2. Your baby might not show interest in being breastfed. That’s a natural indication that your baby wants to wean.
  3. If your baby is teething and breastfeeding is becoming a painful experience, you could initiate the weaning process.
  4. If you are returning to work and might not be available for breastfeeding, then after introducing your child to solids, you could slowly start weaning them.

It’s Your Choice

While generally, it’s best to consider stopping breastfeeding only after the baby is six months old, you can continue feeding them till the time you and the baby are comfortable. It’s a deal between you and your baby, so do not let anyone’s opinion affect you. As a mother, you know what’s best for your baby and you would know your baby’s comfort better than anyone else.

Go by your instinct and if at all you want to wean, keep it gradual. While weaning, you might want to make more variety of solids available to your baby, encourage them to adapt to solid food more, and engage them in activities if they want to be breastfed.

At the end of the day, please understand that there is no judgment whether you breastfeed for six months, one year, more than one year or do not breastfeed at all.

Want to consult the Best Pediatricians in India? Please find the links below.

  1. ‍Best Pediatricians in Bangalore
  2. Best Pediatricians in Chandigarh
  3. Best Pediatricians in Chennai
  4. Best Pediatricians in Faridabad
  5. Best Pediatricians in Gurugram
  6. Best Pediatricians in Hyderabad
  7. Best Pediatricians in Ludhiana
  8. Best Pediatricians in Mumbai
  9. Best Pediatricians in Noida
  10. Best Pediatricians in Pune
  11. Best Pediatricians in Panchkula
  12. Best Pediatricians in New Delhi
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