The World Health Organization (WHO) has some informative facts about breastfeeding. The WHO points out that breastfeeding for the first six months is crucial. They recommend that mothers initiate breastfeeding with one hour after birth.
According to the WHO, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development, and health. They also recommend that breastfeeding should continue for up to two years.
Breastmilk is the ideal food for newborns because it gives them all the nutrients they need for healthy development. It also has antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. Those are the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide.
Another benefit of breastfeeding is that it is inexpensive. Almost all women are able to produce enough breast milk to keep their baby fed. Breastmilk is readily available whenever the baby needs it. Baby formula costs money, and that can make it difficult for some families to afford it.
Infant formula, the WHO points out, dos not contain the antibodies found in breast milk. They explain: “When infant formula is not properly prepared, there are risks arising from the use of unsafe water and unsterilized equipment or the potential presence of bacteria in powdered formula.”
In addition, malnutrition can result if parents over-dilute formula in an effort to stretch it out. This can happen when low-income families don’t have enough money to buy an adequate supply of formula.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first six months of life. They state that continued breastfeeding, along with appropriate complementary foods, should continue up to 2 years of age.
The NHS also has good information about breastfeeding. They point out that breastfeeding can build a strong emotional bond between a mother and her baby.
The NHS says that breastfeeding reduces your baby’s risk of:
* Infections (with fewer visits to the hospital as a result)
* Diarrhea and vomiting (with fewer visits to the hospital as a result)
* Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
* Childhood leukemia
* Type 2 diabetes
* Cardiovascular disease in adulthood
Breastfeeding lowers the mother’s risk of:
* Breast cancer
* Ovarian cancer
* Osteoporosis (weak bones)
* Cardiovascular disease
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