One of the first decisions a mother makes in the life of her child is about food, to breastfeed or not. Some mothers feel anxiety about breastfeeding and with so many commercial baby formulas on the market it’s very simple to not breastfeed. However, there are a myriad of studies in support of the many benefits of breastfeeding and the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, recommend breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months and continuing up to 12 months. The choice is, of course, given to each individual woman and it is her right to choose. For those who are able, however, breast milk is the best defense to fight infections, prevent allergies, and creates a special bond between a mother and her child. Here’s just three big reasons to consider breastfeeding as part of a early and healthy start for babies.
Nutrients and Protection
Breast milk is what nature intended for infants to eat and it is consequently packed with all the nutrients the baby needs as it begins to grow and develop. A mother’s milk is packed with the exact combination of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals that is necessary. In fact, the milk even changes in nutritional makeup to keep up with the needs of the growing child. According to the Allied Health Institute, the nutrients in breast milk is packed with antibodies to fight infections, is a food that prevents disease, and might even help reduce the chance of the baby developing allergies. This makes it even more vital for prematurely born babies. Furthermore, breast milk is easy for the baby to digest so there’s less of the fuss to deal with.
Link to Increased Intelligence
Breastfeeding doesn’t just provide the short-term benefits of nutrients and protection against disease in the first year of life, it’s also associated with higher intelligence. According to Sandee LaMotte on CNN, a recent study has linked breastfeeing to higher IQ scores. Researchers point to the long-chained polyunsaturated fatty acids present in breast milk as essential to brain growth and development, though these have been added to infant formulas in the past few decades. Some studies have shown that it is the milk, not the act of breastfeeding, that provides these nutrients. It is not just IQ scores and intelligence that are associated, but also greater academic achievement levels and even higher incomes later in life. There is a strong correlation for the higher intelligence, though no studies can fully take into account other factors like home life, intellectual stimulation, or bonding between the mother and child.
Convenient, Portable, Affordable, and Environmentally Friendly
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the benefits to the baby aren’t the only reason to breastfeed, doing so can often times just be simpler and more convenient for the mother. There’s no need to worry if the food is safe or fresh or the right temperature; it always comes exactly right and is available wherever the mother is present in a moment’s notice. Breastfeeding is also a far more affordable option because it’s, obviously, free. Baby formulas can actually be quite expensive and going without it can save hundreds or thousands of dollars. Not buying formulas also keeps the world a little bit cleaner for the future since breast milk doesn’t create any pollution, unlike the packaging and waste associated with most products, including formula.