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The limits of breastfeeding

A look at health professionals' perspectives on the duration of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding by mothers is a true “gold standard” for infant feeding and pediatricians and mothers fully agree on this. The disagreements come when it comes to measuring the optimal duration of its intake.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breastfeeding is the ideal way to provide young children with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development, noting that “virtually all women can breastfeed, as long as they have access to good information and support from your family and the health care system.”

The aforementioned organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, the introduction of complementary foods thereafter, and maintaining breastfeeding until two years of age or more.


For pediatrician María Alegre, the final decision whether or not to breastfeed the baby should always be the mother's. “We live in an environment that is not favorable to breastfeeding, because there is a lack of knowledge and a cultural gap that begins in the 60s or 70s and continues this century,” she highlights.

The specialist notes that “we are in a Western society in which we are the daughters of mothers who did not breastfeed because the bottle culture began to be implemented, so breastfeeding was relegated to small areas,” says Alegre, who regrets that in studies of Medicine “breastfeeding is not studied and in consultations, pediatricians often transmit false myths about breastfeeding that come to them from the bottle culture.”

For his part, pediatrician José María González Cano, author of the book “Victims of breastfeeding, neither dogmatisms nor trenches!”, believes that it should be “from four months of age when the baby is introduced to the first cereal porridge.” and the five in the fruit one.”

According to the expert, the maturation of the neuromuscular system up to 4 months allows swallowing liquids; from 4 to 6 swallow semisolids; and will later acquire chewing, and establishes that complementary feeding should not be introduced before 4 months or after 6 months.

González Cano considers that “late weaning is a source of problems for babies, since they develop what is called 'nipple attachment' and do not adequately tolerate cereal, fruit and vegetable porridges.”


According to González Cano, “the current adapted milk is extremely reliable,” and he disagrees with the pressure that some mothers receive to breastfeed when they do not wish to do so. “It is intolerable that with cracks in the nipple they insist that they breastfeed until they bring children to the limit of malnutrition,” criticizes, calling it “terrible” and a “huge injustice” that some women are classified as “ bad mothers” because they have not wanted or been able to breastfeed. In his book he warns about the increase in rickets and iron deficiency anemia among children with prolonged breastfeeding, due to the fact that human milk is poor in iron and vitamin B3: “If supplements of these substances are not given, over the months the child develops rickets and anemia.”

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