How Long Did Mothers Breastfeed in Ancient Times?

Breastfeeding has been a common practice for mothers since the time immemorial. The practice of breastfeeding has evolved over the centuries, and so have the societal norms and expectations surrounding it. In ancient times, the duration of breastfeeding varied significantly from one civilization to another.

Ancient Egypt

Breastfeeding was a common practice in ancient Egypt. However, many Egyptian women hired wet nurses to breastfeed their babies.

Wet nurses were women who were experienced in breastfeeding and would provide nourishment to infants while their mothers were busy with other tasks. The duration of breastfeeding in ancient Egypt was typically two to three years.

Ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, breastfeeding was seen as a natural way of providing nourishment to infants. Breastfeeding was considered essential for the health and survival of babies, and it was expected that mothers would breastfeed their children for at least two years.

Ancient Rome

In ancient Rome, breastfeeding was also considered crucial for the health and well-being of infants. Mothers in Rome breastfed their children for up to three years, after which they would be weaned off breast milk.

Ancient China

Breastfeeding in ancient China was viewed as a duty that every mother had to fulfill. Chinese mothers breastfed their babies exclusively for at least six months before introducing solid foods into their diets. The duration of breastfeeding in China varied from one region to another but generally lasted between two and three years.


In conclusion, the duration of breastfeeding varied significantly across different civilizations in ancient times. While some societies practiced extended periods of breastfeeding, others relied on hiring wet nurses or weaning babies off breast milk earlier than usual. Regardless of these differences, breastfeeding has always been viewed as an essential aspect of nurturing infants throughout history.