The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusively breastfeeding your baby for the first 6 months. When you add solid foods to your baby’s diet, continue breastfeeding until at least 12 months. There are many reasons why breastfeeding is best for your baby:
Benefits for baby:
Human milk provides essentially all the nutrients your baby needs to be healthy, as well as things that boost baby’s immune system. These substances protect your baby against a number of diseases and infections not only while baby is breastfeeding, but potentially even later in life:
- Breastfeeding decreases the risk of ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, and sepsis.
- Breastfed babies usually have a lower risk of milk allergy, eczema, and wheezing early in life if they were exclusively breastfed for at least four months.
- Children who breastfeed for more than six months are less likely to develop childhood leukemia and lymphoma than those who receive formula.
- There is a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) among babies who breastfeed.
- Recent research even indicates that breastfed infants may even have reduced rates of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases later in life.
Benefits for mother:
- Special bonding time for both mommy and baby
- Quicker and easier recovery from childbirth. The hormone released during breastfeeding acts to return the uterus to its regular size more quickly and can reduce postpartum bleeding.
- Reduced rates of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer later in life
- Breastfeeding appears to reduce the mother’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Exclusive breastfeeding delays the return of the mom’s regular cycle, which can help serve as a “natural birth control.” (Although not a completely reliable form of birth control!)
- Weight loss after pregnancy can be enhanced by breastfeeding!
- Human milk is much less expensive than formula, which can cost an estimated $1,000 a year!
- Breastfeeding during the night is much easier and faster than getting up to fix or warm a bottle of formula.
- It is convenient to be able to go places with the baby without having to carry a bag full of bottles, formula, etc.
- Breastfeeding is also good for the environment, since there are no bottles to wash or formula cans to throw away.
By: Dr Lauren Simpson, MD
Dr. Lauren Simpson is a Pediatrician. Dr Simpson is a native of Hickory Flat, MS and joined IM&PC in 2015. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University. She received her medical degree from the University of Mississippi and completed her residency in Pediatrics at Arkansas Chidlren’s Hospital in Little Rock, AR.