How Long Should I Breastfeed My Child?
The simple answer to the question “How long should I breastfeed my child” is, as long as you are both happy and comfortable, you will know when you are ready to stop!
There are no rules on how long you should breastfeed your child. The NCT recommends exclusive breastfeeding (with no other food or drink) for around the first six months of a baby’s life. After this, you can breastfeed alongside other foods for as long as you and your baby wish. This might be into their second year or beyond.
If you do decide to breastfeed when your baby is born, try not to put a date on when you are thinking of stopping breastfeeding because this will put pressure on you as the date approaches and once you start breastfeeding you may wish to extend the time that you do so. For mums who have to return to work whilst still breastfeeding, knowing that your baby can still have your milk even when you are not with your baby is a huge reassurance. There are many ways to express milk and breast milk can be kept in the fridge after expressing or frozen in your preferred storage solution to be defrosted when required.*
*Storing breast milk
You can store breast milk in a sterilised container or in special breast milk storage bags:
- in the fridge for up to five days at 4C or lower (you can buy cheap fridge thermometers online)
- for two weeks in the ice compartment of a fridge
- for up to six months in a freezer
Breast milk that’s been cooled in the fridge can be carried in a cool bag with ice packs for up to 24 hours.
Storing breast milk in small quantities will help to avoid waste. If you’re freezing it, make sure you label and date it first.