Breastmilk: why it’s good for babies
Experts say that breastmilk is the natural food for your baby. Here’s why.
Breastmilk: designed by nature
- Breastmilk has developed over millions of years to be exactly suited to your baby’s needs. Although baby formula manufacturers try to copy breastmilk as closely as they can, formula won’t ever be exactly the same as breastmilk.
- Breastmilk adapts to your baby’s changing nutritional needs as your baby gets older and has fewer feeds.
Breastmilk: a complete food
- For around the first 6 months of life, your baby gets all the nutrients they need from breastmilk alone. Your baby will grow and develop well if you feed them only breastmilk and no solids, water or other liquids. This is called exclusive breastfeeding.
- Breastmilk is easy to digest. It’s easily absorbed into your baby’s system.
Breastmilk: a basis for healthy development
Colostrum is the first breastmilk that babies get when they’re born. Colostrum boosts your baby’s immune system and supports their growth and development.
- Both colostrum and mature breastmilk contain antibodies, good bacteria and other things that reduce your baby’s risk of infections and conditions like gastroenteritis, respiratory tract infections, ear infections, type-1 diabetes and type-2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers.
- The fats in breastmilk are important for baby brain development.
- Breastfeeding is important for baby eyesight, speech, jaw and mouth development.
- Breastfed babies have a lower risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and fatal sleeping accidents.
- Breastmilk gives your baby a secure food source, even when power and clean water aren’t available.
Breastfeeding encourages skin-to-skin and eye contact between you and your baby. Being physically connected can help with bonding between you and your baby. This helps your baby feel secure and can help them form strong relationships as they grow up.
Breastfeeding: why it’s good for mothers
- Breastfeeding is convenient and free. You don’t usually need special equipment to do it, and you can do it whenever and wherever you need to.
- Breastfeeding can help some women lose weight after the birth.
- Breastfeeding mothers get back to sleep more easily than formula-feeding mothers. Their sleep cycles are more in tune with their babies’ cycles.
- Women who breastfeed have lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure. The longer you breastfeed the better it is for your health.
Almost all mothers can breastfeed if they have the right information, support and care.
Breastfeeding: an informed decision
Breastfeeding has many benefits, but it can take time and patience to learn. It’s good to know that you can overcome most breastfeeding issues with the right support.
You and your partner can talk to your midwife or child and family health nurse, or a
If you decide not to breastfeed, it’s good to know that infant formulas give your baby adequate nutrition. And if you need to supplement breastmilk with formula, it doesn’t mean that breastfeeding has to stop completely or forever.
How long to feed your baby breastmilk
It’s recommended that you breastfeed exclusively until you introduce solid foods and water at around 6 months. Around this time babies start needing some extra nutrients for growth and development.
At first, your baby needs only small amounts of solid food and water. As your baby grows, you can increase the amount according to your baby’s appetite. But breastmilk will still be your baby’s main source of nutrition until they’re at least 12 months old. And you can keep breastfeeding beyond 12 months for as long as you and your child want to.
Any breastfeeding is good for you and your baby. Breastfeeding gives your baby a great start to life no matter how long you breastfeed for.