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How Much You Need to Breastfeed the Baby

Updated August 8, 2022

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How Much You Need to Breastfeed the Baby essay

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According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, an infant is a child between birth and the age of one. These infants are categorized by a series of physical, social, cognitive, and language developments. Physical developments begin with the ability to see objects from ten inches away. Then, as the child reaches four months of age, they begin to have more control over their nervous system and muscle function, including holding their head upright and grasping objects such as someone’s finger. Moreover, as they reach six months of age, they can sit without support, roll over towards their stomachs, and crawl.

From about six months to a year, they begin to hold a spoon on their own, throw objects, and start the movements of walking. In addition, there are a variety of social developments the child undergoes throughout their first year of life, such developments include the establishment of relationships with their parents and others, the ability to express and experience emotions, as well as responding to familiar sounds and voices. Furthermore, infants develop cognitively by babbling, exploring things with their mouth, and by twelve months speaking their first understandable words. Lastly, their language develops rapidly. At first, they begin to do different noises, usually different forms of crying, to signal hunger or pain. Then, by four months, they begin to make vowel sounds which leads to jargon and laughs.

When they reach a year, they respond to simple verbal commands such as “no” (Ages and Stages 2018). Sigmund Freud was a renowned neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is the conjunction of a system of psychological theories and therapy that work together to treat mental disorders. Freud’s theory encompasses five stages, which include the oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latency stage, and the genital stage. The oral stage is the first stage and it begins from birth to about 18 months and deals with the stimulation of the mouth. The anal stage begins at 18 months and ends at 4 years of age and includes stimulation of the anus, such as toilet training. Next, is the phallic stage, which starts at age four and lasts until ages 6 to 7, this phase focuses on pleasure received from the genitals.

Moreover, latency begins from the age of seven until twelve years of age and involves the shift from physical activities to intellectual ones. Lastly, is the genital stage that lasts from twelve years of age to adulthood and includes developing sexual relationships and more stimulation of the genitals (Psychosexual Stages). However, the stage that this paper will focus on is the oral stage. During this stage, the mouth is the part of the body that receives the most stimulation by engaging in the sucking and rooting reflexes. Freud discussed that fixation – becoming stuck on a certain stage – can occur at any stage. However, if a child becomes fixated during the oral stage, it can lead to a prolonged period of breastfeeding or nail-biting. Fixation can occur because of a lack of stimulation, overstimulation, or frustration (Psychosexual Stages). Breastfeeding is a topic that has been researched and discussed for an extended period.

Contrary to popular beliefs, women who breastfeed for a longer period exceed their fertility expectations compared to mothers that only breastfeed for about five months. Moreover, most people believe that women breastfeed for longer periods of time due to their economic status, income, and location; although this is true in some situations, most of the time the extensive breastfeeding period is an effect of how many children the mother has. During earlier decades, the main source of food for infants was their mother’s breast milk. However, since new advancements have been made since the 20th century, most of the women in the United States began to feed their newborns formula. Since in the late 1900’s, there was an extremely low rate of breastfeeding after 6 months, doctors began to emphasize the need for breastfeeding because of the bond it creates between the infant and the mother.

As statistics show, women who have one child breastfeed their children for an average duration of six to thirty weeks, but few mothers, about 8% of them, breastfeed for longer than a year (Intensive Parenting: Fertility and Breastfeeding Duration in the United States). Studies by the Minsky Hospital in London have stated that the shorter this oral stimulation stage is, the more detrimental it is to the infant’s development. The duration of breastfeeding is contributed to a variety of factors, such as race, age, and level of education. Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that breastfeeding rates at six months differ among different races drastically with Asian women having the highest rate at 16.1% and African American women having the lowest rates at 7.9% (Thullier and Mercer 2009).

Also, researchers Doran and Schellenberg conducted a study in 1998 that determined that older women breastfeed their children for a longer period; this can be contributed to certain obligations that younger women have such as going back to their strict work schedule. Lastly, women’s education levels play a role in the span of breastfeeding. For example, educated women usually breastfeed more often and for longer periods of time. However, women that come from a lower socioeconomic status and education lactate for shorter periods of time because they are mostly unmarried and less likely to attend parenting classes (Thullier and Mercer 2009).

There is a multitude of benefits that an infant obtains from their mother’s breast milk. One of the main perks of getting breastfed is that the child receives many nutritional benefits and the breast milk creates antibodies for the infant to fight diseases, viruses and bacteria. For example, breast milk contains various cytokines, useful substances, that are both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory, which help regulate and keep homeostasis in the infant’s immune system (Does Breastfeeding affect the infant’s immune responsiveness?). However, some researchers argue that a bottle-fed child can be exposed to many different nutritional products and therefore have more diverse bacteria in their intestinal tract which can better stimulate the child’s immune system (Does Breastfeeding affect the infant’s immune responsiveness?).

To reiterate, an infant is a child from birth to one year of age. These infants are exposed to a series of developments which include physical, social, cognitive, and language developments (Ages and Stages). In addition, according to the distinguished neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, there are a series of psychosexual stages that a person undergoes from birth until death. From these stages, the oral stage occurs from birth to around six months of age. This stage is encountered when the child has a need for an oral stimulation and they receive the satisfaction of this stimulation from sucking on their mother’s breast.

As a result, Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychosexual development concludes that a developing child needs to be breastfed since birth to around eighteen months of age in order to full this stimulation but not become orally fixated (Psychosexual Stages). Extensive research has been done in order to show that it is a benefit for the infant if the mother breastfeeds her child. Some benefits include the connection formed by the mother and the child and the ability to receive all the nutrients necessary for healthy development. Furthermore, it is valuable for the infant to develop an immune system that allows them to fight more bacteria, viruses, and diseases. Most importantly, the action performed by the child of sucking on the mother’s nipple is necessary for the child to not become fixated, or stuck, in the oral stage. The results of becoming orally fixated include nail-biting, thumb-sucking, smoking and many more. Research has proven that it is beneficial for an infant to be breastfed for nutritional purposes and being breastfed for a certain period (no more than 18 months) can help decrease the likelihood of a child becoming orally fixated (Does Breastfeeding affect the infant’s immune responsiveness?).


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How Much You Need to Breastfeed the Baby. (2022, Aug 08). Retrieved from