If your baby is nearing the one-year mark and you're still breastfeeding, take heart in the news that not only will your little one continue to benefit from nursing, but you will too. If it's still mutually desired, there is no need to wean and we'll outline why.

At your baby’s first birthday party, you take a quiet moment to nurse him and reflect on your first year together. When you started out breastfeeding your newborn baby, you may have had humble goals in mind: "Let's make it through the first week," you might have thought. This was followed by a goal of two weeks, then two months, then six months, then a year. And now what? If you're both happy with breastfeeding, there is no need to give it up yet. Here's why you might want to breastfeed your toddler.

It's recommended

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed for at least one year and as long after that as mutually desired. The World Health Organization sees this recommendation and raises it one -- they recommend that babies be breastfed for at least two years, and then as long as you wish after.

It provides immeasurable comfort

Nursing your toddler will provide a unique touch of comfort when he falls down, gets frightened or isn't feeling well. It can also be a way to reconnect with mom during a busy day -- sometimes a few nips is all she needs to be ready for her next adventure.

It fights disease

You may know that breast milk provides your newborn and older baby with disease-fighting antibodies from the get-go -- and that doesn't stop just because he's walking and talking. Illnesses will still happen, for sure, but your tot will likely be sick for a shorter amount of time than if he was not still breastfed. Breast milk is also easily digested and can provide fluids when nothing else will stay down.

It helps mama, too

Not only does breast milk retain its perfect nutritional makeup as your baby enters his second year, but research has shown that breastfeeding for 13 months or more can help reduce mama's risk of certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis -- and can lessen her need for insulin if she's a diabetic. These bonuses are in addition to the reduced risk of certain cancers in the mom, such as breast, ovarian and uterine.

The reasons to continue nursing your toddler are many, so you can rest assured that she will be getting numerous benefits as she grows.

More on breastfeeding

Making the decision to breastfeed
Making breastfeeding work
Breastfeeding basics

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Laura Willard June 12, 2012
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Thanks for sharing this, Monica. I never BF, as we adopted much older infants, so it's always interesting for me to read about BFing moms and their experiences.