The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that newborn babies be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life, then gradually weaned over the next year and a half. However, this isn’t always possible for new mothers, either for medical reasons or due to life interfering. Formula is designed to mimic breastmilk as much as feasible, though it is only an imperfect replica and of necessity is not going to match any specific individual’s breastmilk. Breastmilk confers immune benefits and is often easier to digest than formula. Pumping—putting breastmilk into a bottle for bottle feeding—can work as a compromise between breastfeeding and bottle feeding with formula.

This is necessary for women who need to return to the workplace soon after giving birth. or want Outside the office, breastfeeding in public places is a controversial issue. In many places, breastfeeding is legal in public even if exposed breasts would normally violate indecent exposure laws. Private businesses are free to generally make their own rules, but more and more establishments are making an effort to accommodate mothers of newborns who need to feed the while out and about. Nonetheless many women prefer to try to find a quiet corner, or find nursing-friendly clothing. Often, new mothers will try to time outings to allow for feeding in the parked car.

Experts say weaning the child should start at six months, and the child should be more or less completely off breastmilk by age two years. As this schedule suggests, it is a slow, gradual process. It starts with fewer feedings, either eliminating one of the usual feeding sessions entirely every few days or, as the process goes on, replacing it with food or formula, depending on what the child is able to handle.

However, if breastfeeding is going well, some mothers choose to continue it for longer. This is not necessary, and is unlikely to provide measurable benefit, but nor will it do any harm. Successful breastfeeding means that the child is gaining an appropriate amount of weight, the baby is swallowing while eating, the baby is getting fed eight to 12 times a day, and the infant generally seems healthy.

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