How to keep breastfeeding beyond 6 months
Your breast milk is the only thing your baby needs to consume for the first 6 months of their life. Water, juice and other foods are not necessary. Your baby will get to enjoy new tastes and textures when you introduce solid foods after 6 months, but solid foods should complement – not replace – breastfeeding.
Benefits of breastfeeding beyond 6 months
You might be wondering whether or not you should continue breastfeeding after 6 months, especially if you are feeling pressured to stop. But there are some huge benefits if you continue:
- Breast milk is more than just nutrition and your breast milk changes as your baby grows and their nutritional needs change. The longer a baby breastfeeds, the more protection they receive against ear and respiratory infections, diabetes and SIDS, as well as other things.
- The longer you breastfeed, the more protection you receive against breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Signs that your baby is ready for solid food
First, know that when your baby demands to breastfeed more often, it is usually a sign of a growth spurt rather than the need to start eating solids. But there are signs that your baby is ready for solid food:
- Your baby can hold their head up and sit up on their own without support.
- They open their mouth wide when you offer food and close their lips over the spoon.
Your baby can keep food in their mouth and swallow it instead of spitting it out.
What to know about starting solids
- Introducing solids too early may lead to allergies and food sensitivities.
- Starting solids does not help your baby sleep through the night.
- Always breastfeed first before offering solid foods and continue breastfeeding throughout the day.
- Start a new food every seven to ten days when your baby is happy. This way you can tell whether your baby has had a negative reaction to the new food.
- Give only a small amount (one teaspoonful) each time you introduce a new food.
- Your baby does not need to drink fruit juice. They only need breast milk.
You can introduce solids when your baby is ready. Until then, breast milk provides all the calories and nourishment your baby needs and can handle. Your baby’s digestive system is simply not ready for solids during the first six months of their life.