Breastfeeding is a natural way to provide your newborn with nutrition. Infants benefit from the length of time a mother is able to breastfeed. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first six months of life. After food is introduced at 6 months of age, mothers are encouraged to supplement their baby’s diet with breast milk until the baby reaches 12 months.
Breast milk provides all the nutrients your newborn needs for a healthy start to life. According to AmericanPregnancy.org, human milk is made up of the optimal protein, fat and calorie balance for your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that human milk is species-specific and it is superior to alternatives for infant feeding. Breastfeeding is nature’s way of providing the right amount of calories, fluids and nutritional needs for your newborn. Additionally, antibodies present in breast milk are passed along to newborns to help build their immune system.
Breast milk is easier for your baby to digest than formula, which can reduce gas and diarrhea in infants. Infants who are breastfed have fewer occurrences of ear infections, pneumonia, wheezing and bronchiolitis, according to HealthyChildren.org. According to research findings published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding decreases the risk of illnesses and diseases such as bacterial meningitis, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, sudden infant death syndrome and necrotizing enterocolitis.
Feeding your newborn breast milk can have long-lasting effects. The World Health Organization indicates that adolescents and adults who were breastfed are more likely to perform better on intelligence tests. They are less likely to become overweight, obese or develop Type 2 diabetes. Research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that adults who were breastfed as infants have a reduced risk of developing leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, hypercholesterolemia and asthma.
Breast milk is free, so breastfeeding can save your family money. When leaving home, you don’t have to worry about packing a bottle, filtered water and formula. Breast milk is readily available and it is always the right temperature, so there is no need to heat it up. This is especially advantageous when bottle warmers, heated water or heating devices are unavailable or inconvenient, such as in public places, outdoors or while traveling. Breastfeeding is also convenient for feeding the baby in the middle of the night. Rather than waking up, measuring formula and warming up a bottle, a mother who breastfeeds can feed her infant straight from her breasts.
- World Health Organization: 10 Facts on Breastfeeding
- HealthyChildren.org: Why Breastfeed
- American Academy of Pediatrics: AAP Policy on Breastfeeding and Use of Human Milk
- American Academy of Pediatrics Publications: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk
- AmericanPregnancy.org: What’s in Breast Milk?