It is the mother’s decision as to how long she would like to breastfeed her baby. A mother can continue breastfeeding the child till two years. However, after six months of exclusive breastfeeding, a mother should start weaning the baby away from breast milk. Weaning is the process by which you reduce the baby’s dependence on mother’s milk and start introducing complementary foods.
This becomes necessary as the nutritive value of breast milk begins to decrease after six months. This is when solid foods need to be introduced along with breast milk for complementary nutritive value. You need to start reducing the frequency of breastfeeds.
If a mother chooses to breastfeed her child till the age of two years, the quantity of complementary solid food needs to be more. It is possible for a mother to lactate till two years after birth, but the milk becomes thinner apart from losing nutritive value. However, at this stage, breastfeeding helps in emotional bonding.
For a very premature baby, who has not even developed the sucking reflex, the protocol is different. Doctors take necessary steps to give the baby the initial amount of nutrition required. Once the baby is 32 weeks and has started swallowing and developed the sucking reflex, he is then given to the mother for breastfeeds.
Some babies are lactose intolerant as their bodies do not produce the enzyme to digest the lactose content in milk. Such babies cannot be given mother’s milk. In such cases, the baby is given lactose-free milk like soya milk and hydrolised milk, which is available in the market. Such babies could also be colicky.