Over the summer, the AAP updated its breastfeeding recommendations for the first time since 2012.

The new recommendations encourage Moms to breastfeed their babies until 2 years of age (or beyond) as “mutually desired by mother and child.”1

The previous recommendations (from 2012) encouraged Moms to breastfeed their babies for 1 year (or longer) if both Mom and baby felt like it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement also recommends that Moms “exclusively” breastfeed their babies for the first 6 months of life (before introducing them to solid foods).

If you’re breastfeeding, the AAP wants you to wait until your baby is 6 months old before you start giving him/her solid foods.

Reality Check:
Some pediatricians recommend introducing solid foods at 4 months, while others, follow the AAP’s guidelines and tell parents to introduce solid foods at 6 months.

What is the Herd Up To?
Studies show that 84% of women start off breastfeeding their babies. However, by the time their babies are 6 months old, only 58% of these women are breastfeeding, and a mere 25% are breastfeeding “exclusively” (without adding formula or solid foods to the mix). At 1 year, an even smaller number of Moms (think: 35%) are still nursing.2

Why the Drop Off?
Because breastfeeding isn’t as easy as it looks, especially for first time Moms. There’s a learning curve for both Mom and baby. At first your nipples might be sore and your baby might not be a very efficient feeder. Over time (usually within a few weeks), the two of you will get the hang of nursing and you’ll be off to the races.

Another reason for the drop off is that working Moms don’t always want to deal with pumping their milk and storing it when they go back to work. Life gets in the way. Still, with a little practice, it becomes habit.

The Bottom Line:
There are several proven benefits to breastfeeding (think: mother-baby bonding and protective antibodies in the breast milk), which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics extended the amount of time it thinks women should breastfeed. That being said, breastfeeding has its challenges and if you’re struggling with it, it may be tempting to give up in frustration.

In the end, just do the best you can with breastfeeding. It doesn’t have to be perfect (and you don’t have to give 100% breast milk all of the time). If you end up going the formula route, that works too.

Learn More About the Benefits of Breastfeeding Here and Get Access to The Top 10 Breastfeeding Questions That New Mamas Tend to Ask, Here.

In Addition, Get Wise About the Few Instances in Which Breast Isn’t Best and Formula is the Better Option.