Breast milk is the first source of nutrition for your baby. It is packed with all the nutrition that your baby needs from the time he or she comes into the world for the first time until all the necessary developmental milestones are reached. There is a lot of research to show you why breast milk is the best food.
In fact, organizations like the World Health Organization have led various campaigns on the importance of breastfeeding and providing your baby with breastmilk for at least 6 months after birth to ensure that he or she is healthy.
The first year of your baby’s life is when maximum developmental changes occur. To ensure that your baby is able to develop well and reach all the necessary milestones, you have to provide the necessary nutrition. The best source of this nutrition according to the American Academy of Pediatrics is breast milk. The combination of nutrients in breast milk is ideal for your baby.
One of the reasons why breastmilk is the best food is the nutrients are available to your baby in a form that is most easily digested and absorbed by his or her body. In addition to this, the reason why breast milk is the best food is that the milk is adjusted by the mother’s body as required by the baby. For instance, when your baby has growth spurts, he or she will need to feed more often. The mother’s body will be able to produce enough milk to meet this additional demand and hence, help the baby develop well.
There is enough research available to support why breast milk is the best food and also for the fact that breastfeeding provides several health benefits to your baby. Providing breastmilk for at least 6 months of your child’s life will help prevent allergies, protect the baby from heart issues, respiratory issues, gastroenteritis and even severe conditions like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
In fact, research shows that the longer you feed your baby, the more are these health benefits. Even the slightest difference in the time for which the baby is provided breast milk will make a large difference. For instance, babies who receive breastmilk for 6 months are less likely to have any respiratory infections in comparison to babies who have been fed with breast milk for just 4 months. There are also several cognitive benefits for the baby when you breastfeed for longer.
Therefore, it is advised that you wean your baby by understanding cues provided by the baby to show that he or she is ready to be weaned.
Healthy brain development and cognitive development is one of the most important benefits of providing breast milk to your baby for longer. These benefits are noticed from the early years of your child’s life all the way into adolescence.
Studies conducted on babies who are 7 days old have revealed that babies who received breast milk from the time of birth are a lot calmer, more responsive and also more alert than those who have been bottle fed. Breast milk has DHA which helps in neurodevelopment. As they grow, around the age of five, it has been observed that children who have been breastfed consistently for the first month at least have better learning skills. Children who have been breastfed for longer are also better in their academics as per these studies.
A feeling of security is extremely important for your baby to develop properly. As the bond between the mother and the child increases, he or she is able to show more progress and will have a more pleasant temperament.
One of the best ways to achieve this is by breastfeeding your baby as often as possible. Even for the mother, breastfeeding provides benefits such as a reduced risk of postpartum stress and depression. These moms are always emotionally available for their infants and can help them develop better emotional and social skills.
It is best that you breastfeed your baby within the first hour of delivery. WHO and other organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. This means that your child gets only breast milk and no other food for the first 6 months.
If you plan to go back to work or are unable to feed your baby at the breast for various other reasons, learning about breast pumping is extremely important. You will also have to make sure that you plan your schedule and routine in a way that allows you to provide breastmilk to your baby as often as possible.
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