Discover 5 powerful benefits of breastfeeding for your baby's health and get prepared with the right breastfeeding products to enhance your experience.
Before getting set up with the right breastfeeding products, it's important to first understand what the benefits of breastfeeding are. This will keep you motivated during your new journey.
There is a range of health risks that need critical attention during the first six to eight months of a baby's life. By ensuring that your baby receives breast milk during this period, these risks may be reduced. Additionally, given the unique benefits of breastfeeding, no milk formula measures up quite the same way.
Clearly, the importance of breastfeeding is immense. The same is highlighted even by the World Health Organization (WHO), a global leader in providing medical guidelines and standards. According to WHO, breastfeeding is necessary for an infant for at least six months. They further state that "breastfeeding reduces child mortality and has health benefits that extend into adulthood".
The organization explicitly mentions that for the first six months, an infant needs to be exclusively breastfed. The baby need not be supplied with any other food items or even water during this period. After this period, breastfeeding can be continued up to two more years and even beyond with appropriate supplements (World Health Organization).
Want to learn more? Keep reading to discover how breastfeeding is beneficial for your baby's health.
5 Amazing Benefits of Breastfeeding for Your Baby
1. Health Benefits
Breast milk not only protects a baby at its early stages of development but is critical to the nourishment of the baby. Breast milk contains white blood cells, good bacteria, stem cells, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory agents, and many more live ingredients. Most of these live ingredients are unique to breast milk and cannot be duplicated in any formula.
Likewise, the balance of fats, proteins, and water is distinctive in breast milk, absent in any other animal's milk. There are over 200 different components identified in breast milk. These components play a crucial role in the development of the immune and nervous system of the baby.
Certain studies have found that babies who breastfeed during the first six months of their life are less likely to suffer from common yet life-threatening diseases. Breastfeeding reduced the risk of diarrhea, influenza, and pneumonia significantly. Evidence has also shown that a well-breastfed baby recovers quicker than one that did not receive mother's milk during its infant years (Tensteps.org).
2. Benefits for Premature Babies
Breastfeeding plays a pivotal role in the proper development of premature babies. It is a well-known fact that premature babies are at a higher risk of catching life-threatening infections. Thankfully, regular breastfeeding has been shown to significantly improve the survival rate of premature babies.
Healthcare professionals view breast milk not only as a source of nutrition but also as a medical intervention. It has medicinal properties crucial for the development of premature babies. DHA, a fatty acid supplied to the fetus through the placenta, helps develop the fetus. In case of premature deliveries, the infant does not receive enough factors such as DHA. The milk in mothers who deliver their babies prematurely has higher doses of these crucial factors than those with standard deliveries. Breastfeeding, thus, can work wonders in such cases (Medela).
3. Brain Development
Research shows that the first six months are crucial for a baby's brain development. In fact, a baby's brain almost doubles in size during this period. Nutrients supplied by breast milk are essential for this growth. Studies suggest that kids who received adequate amounts of breast milk in their growing years have 20 to 30% higher white matter in their brains.
There is also worldwide evidence that children who received breast milk during the first six months of their lives tend to perform better academically. They not only receive better grades, but also have higher IQ levels.
Breastfeeding even reduces the risk of developing mental disorders in later stages of life. Likewise, the children who breastfeed as infants typically cope with stress better (Medela).
4. Breastfeeding and Baby's Sleep
The latest studies have demolished the claims proposed by leading baby formula providers that babies that feed on their formula sleep longer.
There is absolutely no difference in sleep or waking up frequency in the babies who breastfeed and those who are formula-fed. In fact, research suggests that infants who breastfeed go back to sleep sooner. The hormones present in breast milk make babies sleepy and enhance their development (Medela).
5. Life-Long Benefits
The benefits of breastfeeding are not only limited to the growing up years in humans. The process of breastfeeding has soothing effects on the child. Every nursing session stimulates the baby's brain, releasing hormones such as oxytocin. This can help encourage feelings of peace and happiness, aiding in positive behavioural development. This sets a stable foundation for healthy future relationships (Medela).
The initial few months are most critical when it comes to a baby's life. A baby is at a higher risk of dangerous infections during the first few months and susceptible to acquiring life-long health problems. This makes it crucial for an infant to receive breast milk, ideally from its mother during this age.
We hope this post highlighted the many amazing benefits of breastfeeding. Before you go, don't forget to check out our range of products to help improve your breastfeeding experience.