LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — For the first time in 10 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has changed its breastfeeding guidance, saying you should now breastfeed for two years or longer.
The AAP still encourages breastfeeding of infants exclusively in the first six months of their lives before introducing other food to complement nutrition, according to its updated policy recommendations.
However, it also encourages mothers who choose to continue breastfeeding to do so for two years or longer as opposed to just one year.
“With the formula shortage, AAP reiterates, yes in this situation with the lack of formula you are totally fine to medically support a child, they’ll get nutrition through breastfeeding as well as food, through one to two years of age,” said Dr. Carrie Wijesinghe of Siena Pediatrics in Henderson.
In addition to providing key nutrients to infants, research has shown links between breastfeeding and decreased rates of lower respiratory tract infections, obesity, severe diarrhea, ear infections, and decreased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Breastfeeding beyond one year and for up to two years has been associated with protections for the mother against high blood pressure, diabetes, and breast and ovary cancers as well.
However, the authors of the new guidance also acknowledged that some parents can’t breastfeed or may prefer not to.
“Sometimes there are real medical reasons, we as pediatricians have to step in and help the baby to get supplements, like in case of formula,” Dr. Wijesinghe continued. “We need to look in the best interest of the baby.”
For mothers who are breastfeeding even longer, dental health is critical. When your child starts getting their first tooth, they are at risk of cavities. Dr. Wijesinghe suggested you stop breast or bottle-feeding overnight, switch to water, and start brushing your baby’s teeth.