How Long Should I Breastfeed: Days, Weeks, Months?

The decision about how long to breastfeed is very personal and can depend on a number of factors.  We provide information and support to help you make the decision that is right for you and your baby.

Both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF recommend that a baby is exclusively breastfed for the first six months (around 26 weeks), and for breastfeeding to continue beyond that time along with solid food for two years or more.  The reality is that although most babies are breastfed at the beginning, very few babies in the UK continue to be breastfed beyond the first few months as we have one of the lowest breastfeeding rates for any developed country. See here for more information.

This means that our society is not used to seeing breastfeeding and so schools, colleges, employers, families and communities lack awareness of breastfeeding. This can make the decision to breastfeed and to keep breastfeeding a more difficult one for a mother, particularly during times of change like returning to study or going back to work.

Support and understanding of breastfeeding is growing. We know that every drop of breastmilk that a baby receives is valuable and the longer breastfeeding continues the greater the benefits to both your baby and you.

Each month of breastfeeding lowers the risk of illnesses that can put babies into hospital. It also helps protect babies against becoming overweight or obese, which means they are less likely to develop diseases like diabetes in the future.

We are here to help you make breastfeeding work for you.

You may find these links useful  Why breastfeed, Start4Life, Building Blocks

Mums’ Stories

Read Marian’s story about breastfeeding her 4th baby after bottle-feeding the first three children.

The Breastfeeding Network supports the recommendations set out in the World Health Organisation’s Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding (2003).

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) frequently focuses on the value of continuing to breastfeed children up to 2 years or beyond. You may also like to read Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Continued Breastfeeding from 6-24 +Months: Issues, Politics, Policies & Action.

Links to other external websites offering more information:

How long should a mother breastfeed? (La Leche League International)

What are the benefits of breastfeeding my toddler? (La Leche League International)

Toddler Breastfeeding – Why on Earth? (Jack Newman’s Site)

Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet (