Unknown to most mothers and potential parents is that the benefits of breastfeeding go beyond meeting the nutritional needs of the baby. In addition to the milk containing several nutrients and minerals that are crucial for the baby’s growth during the first six months, it also contains disease-fighting properties. This is why pediatricians across the globe recommend that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months before they are introduced to other foods. Here are some of the key benefits of breastfeeding:
A healthier baby
Research studies have shown that it is possible to prevent diseases and ailments in babies by breastfeeding the baby. This is because the formulation of breast milk contains crucial substances and constituents that are expressly effective in enhancing the baby’s immune system. Infant nutrition experts recommend that in instances when the mother’s milk is not sufficient to satisfy the baby, mothers should rely on diets that boost milk production in the breasts. Gastrointestinal diseases in babies can be completely prevented and eliminated through breastfeeding.
Right weight for the baby
Breast milk triggers even growth and development in the baby as his/her age advances. This goes a long way in preventing infant obesity; a common condition among babies who are fed on other foods and processed milk. Since all the nutrients and the ingredients in breast milk are well balanced, it becomes easy to monitor the baby’s growth. Additionally, breast milk provides babies with the energy they need to grow and sustain metabolism within their bodies.
Prevention of SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is one of the leading causes of death in infants. One of the greatest and arguably most important benefits about breastfeeding is that it helps in preventing SIDS. Research has shown that babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months are at a lower risk of suffering from SIDS. This is because breast milk is formulated uniquely to adapt to the baby’s changing needs. This, in turn, helps in ensuring that the baby’s health and physical needs are met hence lowering the risk of suffering from SIDS.
Better response to immunizations
Immunizations play an important role in keeping the baby healthy and resistant to life-threatening conditions throughout the baby’s
life. These immunizations are administered to babies for the immune system to show resistance against bacteria and other trigger factors that cause conditions like Tetanus. Breast milk helps the baby’s body to respond well and accordingly to immunizations. This is because the milk helps in boosting the efficiency of the immune system and hence the immunizations work in a better way.
Lower risk of developing allergic reactions
Allergic reactions are common among babies who are not breast fed or those who are introduced to normal foods before they are six months of age. These reactions are mostly mild, but there are instances when the reactions may become severe thereby posing a real health risk to the baby. Babies do not develop any allergic reactions from breast milk as it contains nutrients that are readily digested by their digestive systems.
There are other benefits of breastfeeding that include better and stronger mother-baby bonds, lower risk of developing childhood cancers, and stronger bones among other benefits. Ideally, breast feeding should be done exclusively for not less than the first 26 weeks unless in situations where medical conditions and/or insufficient breast milk prevent breast feeding.