Breast milk is nature’s perfect food for your baby, as it provides the necessary nutrients and perfectly balanced ratios of proteins and fats. Breast milk contains the perfect mix of fat, protein and carbohydrate for the babies developing physiology. It contains protective substances that give her immunity to diseases. In the early stages of a baby’s life, breast milk meets all of her nutrient needs. No other foods or fluids – including water – are necessary. (Breast milk itself is 88% water, which more than satisfies an infant’s thirst). Breast milk passes important antibodies from mother to child that cannot be mimicked in commercial formulas.
Exclusive breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of health issues in babies, including:
- Ear infections
- Stomach viruses
- Diabetes (type 1 and type 2)
- Childhood leukemia
Breastfeeding is equally beneficial to mothers, and can help lower risk for the following health issues:
- Breast Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Postpartum Depression
- Diabetes (type 1 and 2)
And last but not least, breastfeeding can also help mother get back to her pre-pregnancy weight sooner, as it burns from 200-800 extra calories a day!
Breastfeeding should continue (with solid food) for at least two years
This is the minimum period required to adequately nourish the growing baby. Some parents may wish to continue breastfeeding beyond this point.
At six months of age, the increased energy needs of the infant start to exceed the energy provided by breast milk, so that’s the time to begin to introduce foods. It is not okay to continue to breastfeed exclusively at this point. At the same time, breastfeeding should still continue on-demand throughout the complementary feeding period (up to 2 years of age). Breast milk continues to provide higher quality nutrients than complementary foods, and also protective factors that guard against childhood illness and reduce the risk of chronic diseases later in life.