NEW YORK — New guidelines from health officials are changing the recommended period for breastfeeding babies.
Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidance for moms to extend the amount of time they breastfeed for two years or more. Before, the recommendation was for one year.
CBS2’s Nick Caloway spoke with experts and moms about the changes and challenges.
“Everyone tries to do what’s best for their child. For every person, that’s going to look different,” mother Hanna Zeif told Caloway.
For Zeif, that meant breastfeeding beyond the two-year mark. Her son Ilan is two and a half years old.
“We just never reached a point where I had a reason to stop. It makes him happy. I’m OK with it,” she said.
Zeif welcomed the new guidelines from the AAP, which also acknowledged that parents need support in the form of public policy, such as paid leave, more support for breastfeeding in public and insurance coverage for lactation support.
Sipporah Tracer is a board-certified lactation consultant based in Teaneck, New Jersey.
“They need to have access to that support. And if it’s not there, we need to do something on a societal level to change that,” she told Caloway.
The benefits to breastfeeding are significant.
“There’s lower risk of ear infections, there’s lower risk of respiratory tract infections, preventing obesity in childhood,” said Dr. Cheryl Panem, a pediatrician at St. Joseph’s Health in Paterson.
Importantly, the updated policy from the AAP suggests two years of nursing if that is mutually desired by mom and baby. Dr. Panem said families need nonjudgemental support.
“Not all mothers can start breastfeeding, and not all mothers can continue to breastfeed,” she said.
Of course, two years are not for everyone. But for moms like Zeif, it’s validation that her breastfeeding journey is normal.
“Just gives me a little more confidence to start nursing my child in more public settings,” she said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to recommend that babies are exclusively breastfed for six months before complementary foods are introduced.