Everyone has heard the term ‘breast is best’,
but exactly what are the benefits?
Benefits of breastfeeding for your baby
* Breastmilk provides the perfect nutrition for your baby. Perfectly balanced for babies, human milk contains the right amounts of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins needed for your baby’s first six months of life. Amazingly it provides half their nutritional needs from six months to a year, and a third of their nutritional needs from year one onwards.
* Breastmilk is provided just as your baby needs it. Breastmilk changes in composition throughout the day and over the months (for example breastmilk is more watery on hot days) to suit the individual needs of each baby.
* Breastmilk provides the best possible protection against infection. Your baby will gain immunity to diseases by receiving antibodies in breastmilk and breastfeeding also prevents possible contamination from bottles, teats and dirty water. Babies are less likely to have chest infections, diarrhoea and are less likely to be admitted to hospital. When breastfed babies do become poorly, they tend to recover more quickly. These benefits continue into toddlerhood when they are still receiving breastmilk.
* Studies have also shown that hormones in the baby’s digestive system are released by suckling and these help relieve the effects of colic.
* Your breastfed baby will be less likely to have allergic diseases as it helps to protect against asthma, eczema and bronchitis.
* Your baby will also be protected against long-term illnesses as research shows that breastfed babies are less likely to develop diabetes as children and heart disease as adults.
* Your baby will also be less likely to become obese, and it also seems to have an effect on your child’s eating habits in later life.
* Some studies have shown that breastfeeding may be good for healing the effects of a traumatic birth, and for your ability to bond with your baby.
* Research suggests that breastfed babies have higher IQs!
* Breastfed babies get through fewer nappies (and they don’t smell as bad!)