Breastfeeding beyond 6 months
In the UK at 12 months only 0.5% of babies are still breastfed. When comparing coutries accross the world there is a lot of variation. In comparison, 27% in the US, 35% in Norway, 44% in New Zealand and 92% in India of babies are breastfed until they are one year old.
There are a multitude of reasons for this. Poor support for mothers returning to the workplace. Society's expectations that once babies have their first birthday they no longer need to breastfeed. Some mothers feel self concious feeding older babies in public and may not have seen older babies being breastfed before and feel it isnt acceptable.
When babies are allowed to wean on their own terms this will happen gradually between the ages of 2 and 7 year olds. The World Health Organisation encourages mothers to breastfeed babies until 2 years and beyond.
Mothers should feel empowered and supported to breastfeed until they are ready to stop. They need support to continue if they wish to with provison in the work place for expressing milk and legislation to protect this.
Breastmilk changes as a baby grows, adapting to the ever changing needs and enviroment of the child. we also know that breastfeeding is more then nutrition and many mothers find it provides comfort and support for children.
The benfits to mothers and babies discussed earlier dont diminish in time, they only improve.