Experts and mothers agree that when it comes to feeding your newborn, breastfeeding is the way to go. Breastfeeding not only creates a special bond but also provides balanced nutrients, while offering both the mother and child multiple health benefits. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months provides all the nutrition needed for the infant to grow. A mother’s breast milk just after birth is called “liquid gold,” which refers to the deep yellow coloring. This milk contains colostrum which is very rich in nutrients and includes antibodies which fight off germs and help protect the baby. As the next few days go by the milk will actually change to meet the baby’s needs. This new mature milk, although thinner than colostrum, has the perfect amount of fat, sugar, water and protein the baby needs to continue to grow. The milk also protects the baby from many health problems like respiratory illness, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, type 2 diabetes, asthma and allergies. Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding as it is linked to lower rates of breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and ovarian cancer. It can also help with post pregnancy weight loss. After the first six months have passed, it is recommended to gradually combine other soft foods with breastfeeding until at least 12 months.
Many mothers after a couple months will want to move to formula, but do not fall for those effortless meals as formula is not as healthy as natural milk. For most babies, especially those born premature, breastmilk substitutes like formula are harder to digest. Breastmilk substitutes are made from cow’s milk which the baby’s stomach needs to adjust to and this will take some time. Some researchers believe that in an infant’s saliva are transferable chemicals that help the mother’s body create milk to meet the changing needs; formula will not change for your baby’s needs. Not to mention the extra expenses of buying formula over what nature freely provides. As the baby gets older, the more milk they will need and formula supply costs can easily reach over $1,000 per year. And by not buying formula cans and bottle supplies, there is less trash and plastic waste. Breastfeeding is the healthiest start you can give your baby. Take special care to encourage milk production and check out our “Do’s and Don’ts” to avoid habits that could easily diminish the beneficial nutrients your baby needs.