Are you one of those new moms-to-be who is in a dilemma whether to breastfeed your baby or feed with formula? Whether you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, it’s never too early to start thinking about how you are going to feed your baby. Though choosing to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby is a personal decision, breastmilk is the best nutrition you can ever offer to your newborn.
Mother’s milk is baby’s best food for the first six months of life and benefits the baby in many ways beyond providing nutrition. Breast milk is the perfect food that is tailor-made for a newborn and which can neither be duplicated nor replaced. It provides the right balance of nutrients and is the most natural and nutritious way to encourage the healthy development of the baby.
Though there used to be many misconceptions and myths about breastfeeding, over time, women became aware of the benefits of breast milk and started to breastfeed their babies. If you still have any misconceptions about breastfeeding and are thinking of bottle-feeding your baby, here’s a guide to ‘how breastfeeding benefits your little one’.
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Benefits of breastfeeding for baby:
Besides providing the basic nutrition for the baby, breastfeeding has many other health benefits that last for a long period of time. The healthiest developmental and psychological outcomes of breastfeeding include:
Brest milk has the right proportion of proteins, fats, vitamins and carbohydrates that promote the healthy growth and development of the baby. It is easily digested and has great amounts of antibodies that fight against infections.
Breastfeeding a baby for at least four months lowers the risk of food allergies, eczema and asthma. The colostrums or the first milk that is produced within the first few days after childbirth has a positive influence on the immune system of the newborn. This makes babies more resistant to germs, bacteria, viruses and increases the benefits of vaccination.
Unique proteins present in the breast milk promote brain development. Breast milk is rich in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids especially DHA and Arachidonic acid which are most important for brain development. Hence, prolonged breastfeeding improves baby’s cognitive development.
SIDS is referred as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome which means the unexplained death of an infant within 1 year of birth. Nursing the baby for at least six months can lower the risk of SIDS and protects the infant from infections by building a stronger immune system.
Breastfeeding can decrease the risk of cancer for both mother and baby. It lowers the risk of some childhood cancers and premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer for nursing mothers.
As mentioned earlier, breast milk is the rich source of DHA, one of the essential structural components of the retina of the eye. The infants who are breastfed have lower chances to wear glasses later. Breast milk promotes better eyesight and combats eye infections in infants.
The proper balance of nutrients present in breast milk helps babies to develop a healthy digestive system. Breast milk is easily digestible and emptied faster from the stomach. It also ensures a proper balance of good bacteria in the infant’s stomach. Hence, breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from diarrhea and other digestive problems.