Feeding the Child
- Published on Saturday, 02 November 2013 03:29
- Written by babycentre.co.uk
Breastfeeding has many benefits for both you and your baby. It's a lovely way for you to feel close to each other. Best of all, though, your breastmilk gives your baby everything she needs to thrive for the first six months of her life.
And once your baby starts solids at around six months, you can carry on breastfeeding her. Breastmilk is full of nutrients that will continue to do your baby good.
Breastfeeding also helps your baby to fight infections in the first few months of her life. Breastmilk contains antibodies which help protect your baby against illnesses such as tummy bugs (gastroenteritis), colds, urinary infections and ear infections.
Breastmilk also reduces the risk of your baby getting allergic conditions such as asthma and eczema. It can even help to protect your baby against serious illnesses, such as childhood diabetes and leukemia.
As well as antibodies already in your breastmilk, your body will make new antibodies as soon as you are exposed to an infection. These antibodies then transfer to your milk, ready for your baby to receive as soon as she next has a breastfeed.
Breastmilk has long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for helping your baby’s brain develop. Exclusively breastfeeding for the first few months can improve your baby’s cognitive development. In theory, this means breastfeeding your baby could make her more intelligent.
Breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for you, too. It reduces your risk later in life of pre-menopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and bone fractures from osteoporosis.
On the practical side, a big benefit of breastfeeding is how convenient it is. You have nothing to wash, sterilise or prepare. You and your baby will enjoy it, and you will feel a real sense of achievement to see her growing and developing. And it's all your own work!