Feeding your Newborn
How you feed your newborn is the first nutrition decision you will make for your child. Take a closer look at these guidelines for breastfeeding and bottle feeding so you can make an informed decision.
Breast or Bottle?
Medical experts recommend breastfeeding as the best choice for newborns. Specifically, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for about the first 6 months. Following the introduction of solid foods, breastfeeding should continue through the first year of life and beyond, if desired.
Breastfeeding may not be possible or preferable for all women. Deciding to breastfeed or bottle feed a baby is usually based on the mother's comfort level with breastfeeding as well as her lifestyle, but breastfeeding may not be recommended for some mothers and babies. If you have any questions about whether to breastfeed, talk to your pediatrician.
Remember, your baby's nutritional and emotional needs will be met whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed.
Breastfeeding your newborn has many advantages. Perhaps most important, breast milk is the perfect food for a human baby's digestive system. It contains the vitamins and minerals that a newborn requires, and all of its components — lactose, protein (whey and casein), and fat — are easily digested by a newborn's immature system. Commercial formulas try to imitate breast milk, and come close, but the exact composition cannot be duplicated.
Also, breast milk contains antibodies that help protect infants from a wide variety of infectious diseases, including diarrhea. Studies suggest that breastfed babies are less likely to develop certain medical problems, including diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, and allergies. Breastfeeding may also decrease the chances that the child will become overweight or obese.
Breastfeeding is great for moms, too. It burns calories and helps shrink the uterus, so nursing moms get back in shape quicker. Breastfeeding may also protect mom from breast and ovarian cancer.
Some moms find breastfeeding easier and quicker than formula feeding; it needs no preparation and you don't run out of breast milk in the middle of the night. Also, breastfeeding costs little. Nursing mothers do need to eat more and may want to buy nursing bras and pads, a breast pump, or other equipment. But these expenses are generally less than the cost of formula.
Breastfeeding meets a variety of emotional needs for both moms and babies — the skin-to-skin contact can enhance the emotional connection, and providing complete nourishment can help a new mother feel confident in her ability to care for her newborn.
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