As Salaamu Alaikum,
- If a child is wean off from directly breastfeeding at 2 years of age as recommended, can the milk be expressed and given to the child in a cup or bottle for the nutritional values?
- Can expressed milk be given to other young children in the house who has pass 2 years of age?
Wa Alaikum As Salaam,
The expressed milk that is given to a child in a cup or bottle has the same ruling and effect as the direct breastfeeding by the mother. As such, whatever maximum duration has been given in the Holy Quran for breastfeeding, this will also be applicable to the situation where the mother’s milk is expressed and then given to the child in a cup or a bottle. With respect to this duration, the overwhelming majority of scholars have stated that the maximum duration for breastfeeding is two years, based on the verse of the Holy Quran which states, ‘And mothers shall suckle their children for two complete years for one who wants to complete the period of suckling’. (Sura Al Baqarah verse 233).
There is also the well-known opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R) who holds the view that the maximum period of breastfeeding is 2 ½ years. He based his verdict on the verse of the Holy Quran which states, ‘And we have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning (period) is thirty months’. (Sura Ahqaf verse 15).
Based on this, the jurists have stated that the maximum duration given for breastfeeding is two complete years, after which it should be stopped. However, if on account of difficulties on the child (to stop at two years), the mother suckles the child for a further six months, then it will be allowed, but it must not continue after this since it is not permissible at all to breastfeed/nurse the child after 2 ½ years. (Radd Al Muhtaar Vol. 3 page. 211 H.M Saeed Karachi; Qamoos Al Fiqh Vol. 3 pages 485 and 486 Zam Zam Publishers Karachi 2007; Ma’ariful Quran Vo. 1 Page. 580 (Urdu) Idaratul Ma’arif Karachi 1999).
With this understanding, the answer to your questions are as follows:-
- If the child is weaned off directly from breastfeeding upon 2 years, then you should not continue to give the child expressed milk after this period. This is so, because the overwhelming majority of the Imams of Fiqh and jurists have stated that breastfeeding stops at 2 years, and expressed milk given to the child in a cup or bottle falls under the same law of breastfeeding.
If however, it is difficult upon the child to stop at 2 years and the mother thinks that she must still continue the breastfeeding, then she may do so until the completion of 2 ½ years as stated by the great Imam, Abu Hanifa (A.R). An effort should however be made to slowly wean off the child during the extra six months, so that it becomes easy to stop breastfeeding upon the completion of 2 ½ years. In this case, where the mother sees it necessary to continue breastfeeding for another six months, it will be permissible to give the expressed milk to the child in a cup or bottle. But as I mentioned before, this must be totally stopped upon the completion of 2 ½ years.
- As for other children in the house who have passed 2 years of age, they should not be given the expressed milk since they have already reach an age where breastfeeding must stop. Giving them the expressed milk in a cup or bottle is the same as breastfeeding them directly, and this must be stopped upon the completion of two years in general cases. Only in cases where stopping at 2 years becomes difficult for the child, it will be allowed to continue for another six months and then stopped. If this occurs in the case of other young children in the house, then it will be allowed to give them expressed milk in a cup or bottle until the completion of 2 ½ years.
However, it must be understood that if these children are not blood brothers and sisters to each other, then by drinking the milk of a certain woman, they will all become foster brothers and sisters to each other, and all the laws and restrictions connected to fosterage will come upon them.
And Allah Knows best
Mufti Waseem Khan
This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.