How Long to Breastfeed my Child?

Every new mom wants to know how long to breastfeed a baby, and the answer is generally very clear cut. Find out exactly how long it should be here and why that has to be the case.

New moms are notorious for their huge list of questions that they have to ask, including everything from how long to breastfeed right through to how to deal with a child that refuses to nurse. The former question is particularly puzzling though. Some experts say six months, others a year. Some mothers continue until their children are at middle school. In truth, there is no right or wrong answer to the question because some mothers plan for a certain period of time and then change their minds. So how long to breastfeed is best for you and your baby?


Six months is actually the optimum time for breastfeeding and the point at which most mothers begin to wean their babies. There are health reasons why six months is the best answer to the how long to breastfeed question as well as logistical reasons. Taking the latter first, at six months of age, baby is often weaned to make mom heading back to work easier on both parties. It is much easier to cope with a baby on solids rather than a breastfeeding baby at that point in time.

In terms of how long to breastfeed a baby for the best possible growth and development, six months is the best point in time to wean your baby onto solids because growth has slowed right down by then. During the first six months of a baby’s life, he or she will be growing in terms of length, weight and extras like hair and nails. As such, the nutrients from breast milk are perfectly formulated to enhance this period. After six months, the process regulates and slows.

It is after six months that you can also begin to get your baby immunized against horrible illnesses and disease that may cause severe pain and discomfort, amongst other things. Prior to that age, your baby will need to boost his or her immune system and the only way to do that effectively is with breast milk. This is perhaps the main reason why that length of time is offered as an answer to how long to breastfeed question. Without the antibodies that are passed to baby within breast milk, it is difficult for a baby to develop any sort of immunity to basic coughs and colds, without the more serious illnesses that he or she may come into contact with. Protecting your baby is of paramount importance so be sure to offer him or her a better chance at life that way.

Bearing all of the above in mind, circumstances may change and you may not be able to breastfeed for a set period of time as you originally planned. It may be that you aimed for six months in relation to how long to breastfeed but can only do so for four months because of illness or breast engorgement. If you do stop before the six month mark then it will be worth seeking medical advice so you are aware of what you can do to minimize the impact. If you can though, stick to six months because the how long to breastfeed question and answer are in place for a reason.