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How long to breastfeed

Babies should be exclusively breastfed until they’re around six months old. You should continue breastfeeding until they’re at least one year of age – or beyond.

  • Breastfeeding helps protect your baby against viruses, bacterial infections and diseases.
  • At around four months babies will start to produce some of their own antibody protection, but their immune system isn’t fully developed until they’re around two years old.

The longer your breastfeed your baby, the better.

Thinking about stopping breastfeeding?

You may meet your breastfeeding goal without any problems – and this is a great achievement.

On the other hand, you may have planned to breastfeed for a certain length of time but feel you have to stop sooner than that. This could be if:

  • you’re going back to work
  • your baby is going to start child care
  • you or baby get sick, and this disrupts or changes breastfeeding.

Child care and employment

You don’t necessarily have to stop breastfeeding because your baby is going to child care or you’re going back to work.

Child care centres are generally supportive of breastfeeding women – and you can talk to your employer about what you need to continue breastfeeding while you’re at work. Check out the ‘Related areas’ box on the right for information.

Getting help

You can ask for advice from your lead maternity carer, the La Leche League or your lactation consultant if:

  • you feel you need to stop breastfeeding (and also see the ‘Related areas’ box on the right for information)
  • you would like to continue breastfeeding but are experiencing some challenges or concerns
  • your baby decides it’s time to wean from the breast – there may be something you can do if you wish to continue.

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