The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recently updated its guidance and supported “continued breastfeeding until two years or beyond, as mutually desired by mother and child”.
This is a change since its last update in 2012, which recommended continued breastfeeding for up to one year or longer. Exclusive breastfeeding for first 6 months of life continues to be recommended by both WHO and AAP. After 6 months, complementary foods should be introduced. Breastfeeding during this time should be continued as breastmilk continues to be a “significant source or macronutrients and immunologic factors for growing toddlers”.
This change has been highly welcomed, especially as the World Health Organization (WHO) has been recommending continued breastfeeding for up to two years and beyond for a number of years.
What are the implications of this policy change?
Breastfeeding is a difficult and very individualised journey for each parent and their child. It not only comes with its own set of physical burdens, but also an emotional and mental load. There are many barriers to breastfeeding, such as societal and familial support, financial, returning to work and practices at work in place to provide support or lack of support for a breastfeeding parent, access to supportive childcare amongst many more.
We hope this policy brings support to parents who choose to continue to breastfeed their child well past 6 months and/or 1 year of age. We hope this will bring about changes to support breastfeeding parents in their journey and aid in removing stigma for parents who choose to continue to breastfeed their child until their natural weaning age.
It, however, does not mean or imply that a breastfeeding parent must continue to breastfeed their child for up to 2 years of age and/or more, if it is not the right decision for them and their child.
Many parents may feel upset by this recommendation, especially, if their own breastfeeding journey had not panned out as they had expected, or are currently struggling with the idea of meeting the target of 2 years. Feelings of sorrow, regret and guilt may come up. We understand that and hope to clarify through this article that the latest AAP guidelines is a recommendation to support breastfeeding for up to 2 years of age or beyond, and in no way a mandate to do so.
We, at Osler Health International, understand how challenging breastfeeding can be – for you, your child and your family. We are here to support you in your decisions and what works best for you.
Dr Trisha Upadhyaya is a British trained doctor based at Osler’s Star Vista clinic. For appointments please call: 6339 2727
1. Joan Younger Meek, Lawrence Noble, Section on Breastfeeding; Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics July 2022; 150 (1): e2022057988. 10.1542/peds.2022-057988
2. World Health Organisation (WHO) Breastfeeding Recommendations