AAP: Breastfeeding for 2 Years or Longer Should Be Supported

American Academy of Pediatrics updates its guidance for first time in decade
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2022 12:18 PM CDT
AAP: Breastfeed 2 Years or Longer if You Can, Want To
Stock graphic.   (Getty Images/Olga Shevchenko)

(Newser) – The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday updated its breastfeeding guidance for the first time in a decade. In addition to sticking with its recommendation that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, it for the first time included a recommendation that we support parents who choose to breastfeed their infant to age 2 and beyond. The New York Times notes that the previous guidance suggested pediatricians support breastfeeding for one year or more. CDC figures show about a third of babies are still being breastfed at age 1; there isn't verified national data beyond that age.

"We know that ... the longer the total duration of breastfeeding the better," lead author Dr. Joan Younger Meek tells USA Today. But "mothers who choose to breastfeed beyond the first year need support from their medical care providers, as well as protections against workplace barriers," notes the AAP guidance. USA Today flags ongoing stigma around lengthy breastfeeding as well. The AAP in its guidance also addresses gender-diverse parents, recommending that such families be asked what terminology they prefer. It notes "chestfeeding" may be a more comfortable term.

The guidance points out that "there are continued benefits from breastfeeding beyond 1 year, and up to 2 years especially in the mother. Long-term breastfeeding is associated with protections against diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancers of the breast and ovaries." But Meek calls for those who decline to breastfeed either at all or for that long to be "equally support[ed] ... we need to ... not make them feel shamed or bad because they made a different decision." The guidance advocates for:

  • universal paid maternity leave
  • the right for women to breastfeed in public
  • lactation support and breast pumps to be covered by insurance
  • a clean, private location provided by workplaces, as well as the time needed to express milk.
(Read more breastfeeding stories.)

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