Breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for babies. Breastmilk provides all the nutrients a baby needs. In the UK it is recommended that babies fed by breastfeeding alone for their first six months. The recommended age for starting to add in solid foods ('weaning') is six months. Below are some benefits of why 'breast is best' for most babies and mothers.
What are Benefits of Breastfeeding?
- Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. A mother's milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula.
- There is some evidence that children who are breast-fed are less likely to be obese when they are grown up. There is also growing evidence that babies who are breast fed are less likely to develop diabetes and heart disease in later life.
- Many mothers also get emotional benefits from breastfeeding because of the closeness of this interaction with the baby and from the satisfaction of helping to nourish their babies.
- Breastfeeding can help a mother to bond with her baby. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm and comforted.
- Some of the nutrients in breast milk also help protect an infant against some common childhood illnesses and infections, such as diarrhoea, middle ear infections, and certain lung infections.
Are there cases in which it is better not to breastfeed?
- A woman with certain health conditions, such as HIV or active tuberculosis, should not breastfeed because she risks giving the infection to her infant through her breast milk.
- Women who actively use drugs or do not control their alcohol intake, or who have a history of these situations, may also be advised not to breastfeed.
- Certain medicines, including some mood stabilizers and migraine medicines, can also pass through the breast milk and cause harm to the infant.
Label: Breastfeeding Benefits