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Breastfeeding past 6 months

Breastfeeding for this long is a huge achievement, and if you and your baby are still enjoying the experience there's no reason for you to stop.

Breastfeeding older babies and toddlers

Some people think that once your baby reaches this stage, it's less important to breastfeed. Even once you've introduced solids to your baby's diet they will still need milk - and breast milk is still the best source of nutrition you can offer your baby. The longer you continue breastfeeding, the better for you and your little one. Your risk of diseases like breast and ovarian cancer are reduced, and your baby continues to get better protection from common illnesses. Plus, it really helps you lose any extra weight!

Top tips for breastfeeding older babies

As naps become less frequent and your baby becomes more aware of the world around them, breastfeeding can get a bit trickier. Here you'll find some top tips for feeding your older and more easily distracted baby.

Top tips for breastfeeding older babies

Tip #1: Teething and feeding

At around 4-7 months old your baby's first tooth should make an appearance. This doesn't mean the end of breastfeeding, first teeth are at the front and should be covered by the tongue during feeding.

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Tip #2: Coping with biting

By this stage, your baby may also have learnt to bite and may be beginning to enjoy the reaction it gets! If you can, try not to react too much - calmly remove your baby from the breast and say firmly "No biting". Biting won't be fun once they learn that biting means no smiles or attention from you.

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Tip #3: When your baby gets distracted

It's common for older babies to be more distracted as they start to become more aware of the world. To help them focus and keep calm, try breastfeeding while walking or rocking, or find a quiet place. If your baby pulls away without letting go, keep a finger ready to break the suction and avoid any damage to your nipple.

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Tip #4: Keep it going!

Try to ignore other peoples' opinions - all that matters is breastfeeding your baby for as long as you can to give them the best start in life.

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Nutrition facts: healthy babies and toddlers

Breast milk provides everything your baby needs for the first 6 months, but as they grow older they'll still need breast milk to keep them as healthy as possible.

After 6 months

This is the recommended time to start introducing solid foods. It helps your baby learn about textures, flavours and starts getting them used to eating together with the rest of the family. Before your baby reaches 6 months, your baby's immune and digestive systems are still developing. Once they reach the 6 month stage, your baby's system will be developed enough to cope with solid foods and they will now need more nutrients than they can get from milk, like iron. However, weaning too early can increase your child's risk of allergies and being overweight in childhood.

Image of baby eating finger food

Image of baby eating finger food

Try and gradually increase the variety and amount of solid foods so that by the time your baby is 12 months, food rather than milk makes up most of their diet. It's still good to breastfeed as well because the longer you continue breastfeeding the more benefits there are for you and your baby.

You can find out more detailed information about introducing solids in First Step Nutrition's guide "Eating well: the first year."

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Last updated: 20 May, 2019