How can breastfeeding benefit my baby?

Breastfeeding has many benefits for your baby. For example:

  • Colustrum, the first milk a woman makes for her infant post-delivery, meets a baby's needs for the first few days of life. Colostrum helps boost the baby’s immune system, lower his or her chances of jaundice and helps the baby have his or her first bowel movement.
  • Breast milk, which develops within three to five days after giving birth, helps the baby’s brain to develop. Also, breast milk contains antibodies that help to prevent the baby from getting sick and decrease incidence of asthma, allergies and dental caries. Breast milk also helps to prevent sudden infant death syndrome and continues to protect baby long after breastfeeding is stopped. Baby’s risk of being overweight, developing diabetes and even some cancers can drop if he or she has been breastfed.

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Dr. Maria E. Poortenga, MD
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Specialist

Breastfeeding can benefit your baby in many ways. Specifically, human milk was made perfectly for humans. It provides the nutrients in the proper quantities, changing over time as the volume of milk changes with time for the infant. Following are some additional benefits of breastfeeding for babies:

  • reduced obesity
  • higher IQ
  • reduced allergies
  • reduced infections including ear infections, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal (GI) infections, urinary tract infections
  • reduced risk of some cancers

The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends six months of exclusive breastfeeding for infants. Breastfeeding provides vital nutrients to your infant that change and develop as he or she gets older. Studies show that infants who are breastfed have less frequent instances of otitis media (ear infections), gastroenteritis, atopic dermatitis (eczema), lower respiratory infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). There are also links to obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and asthma for children who were not breastfed in infancy.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.