Having a mommy and daddy who work full-time is hard for a toddler. Despite a busy schedule, our two-year old daughter, Jovie, continues to enjoy breastfeeding. She always looks forward to snuggles after daycare – a time when she can have “mama num-num” (her name for breastfeeding!).
I’ve been grateful to be able to follow the recommendations from the World Health Organization, Health Canada, the Dietitians of Canada, and the Canadian Pediatric Society:
- To exclusively breastfeed Jovie for the first six months of her life,
- To introduce solid foods and other fluids around six months (her first meal with solid foods was turkey dinner at her first Christmas!), and
- To continue breastfeeding for up to two years and beyond.
Learning to mother through breastfeeding has been an important part of my journey as a first-time mom. I’m constantly amazed by the many health benefits it has for both toddlers and mommies alike. Here are some of the reasons why I’m continuing to breastfeed Jovie during her toddler years, even while juggling a busy work schedule.
The benefits for breastfed toddlers can include:
- Enhanced emotional security and comfort, as it helps them to achieve independence at their own pace.
- Better jaw and tooth development for improved speech and oral health.
- Strengthened immune systems and protection from chronic diseases and acute infections (especially with all the exposure they have to germs at daycare!).
The benefits for breastfeeding moms include:
- Improved mental wellness – it’s a great opportunity for her to practice mindfulness, connect with her toddler, and tune into her own body.
- Lowered risk of breast and ovarian cancers – the longer she breastfeeds, the lower her risk of cancer.
- Help adjusting to being away from home while working (when Jovie was younger, I visited her daycare during my lunch break to give her “mama num-num”!).
There’s another benefit that may not be regularly considered: It helps to normalize breastfeeding in our society, especially when done in public.
Women have the right to breastfeed their toddler anytime, anywhere.
I’m thankful my daughter's and my journey has been generally positive, but I’ve definitely experienced a few raised eyebrows myself along the way! In our Western society, breastfeeding toddlers are less understood and much less accepted than in other parts of the world. This is why it’s so important to support mothers along their breastfeeding journey.
Evidence shows that women who receive continued support are more likely to breastfeed their children for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, many families are lacking the support they need. Wondering how you can help? Check out the Breastfeeding Friendly Spaces program that’s improving breastfeeding support for moms across the North!
As a breastfeeding mom, I know how important support has been for us. Do you know of a mother-child dyad who is breastfeeding beyond infancy? Here are resources to help you on your journey to strengthen your support for them: