Recommendations from the AAP
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of life and that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months and longer if the mother chooses. Breastfeeding is optimal for both babies and mothers. For babies, it can protect against infections and reduce the rates of later health problems.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
There are many benefits to breastfeeding your baby for any amount of time. Some of the benefits include:
- The first breast milk is perfect for your baby. Known as colostrum, this early breast milk is very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby. Although he/she gets a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, it matches the amount his or her tiny stomach can hold. Mature breast milk usually comes in between the 3rd and 5th day after birth.
- Breast milk changes as the baby grows. Your breast milk changes according to each stage of his/her development, providing the appropriate nutrients.
- Breast milk is easier to digest. Human breast milk is perfectly compatible with baby’s delicate digestive system.
- Breast milk helps fight disease. Breast milk protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrhea, ear infections and pneumonia. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma and allergies.
- Children who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese.
- Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
If you have chosen to breastfeed your baby, the best advice we can give is to relax and remember you and your baby are both learning.