Why Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
At Westside Pediatrics, we recommend that infants breastfeed for at least the first year of life, and possibly into the second and third years for optimal development and/or for as long as mutually desired by both mother and baby. For the first six months of life, the healthy infant needs no food or fluid other than breast milk. Beyond that age, mother's milk should be increasingly supplemented with solid food and other fluids.
Perhaps the most important advantage to breastfeeding is that breast milk provides an infant with significant protection against chronic diseases such as allergies and asthma; and infectious diseases including meningitis, diarrhea, ear infections, and pneumonia. The immune components of breast milk constantly change to meet the infant's need to be protected against new infections. Breast milk is known to protect against gastrointestinal tract infection, otitis media (ear infection), invasive Haemophilus influenzae type B infection which can cause meningitis, pneumonia, and inner ear infections, and infections of the upper and lower respiratory tracts. This immune protection lasts for years beyond the child's breastfeeding period. Children who do not breastfeed average five times more ear infections.
Breastfeeding also benefits the mother by reducing her risk of developing ovarian cancer, pre-menopausal breast cancer, osteoporosis, and hip fractures in later life. Breastfeeding facilitates bonding between a mother and infant that is emotionally satisfying to both participants. Through the breastfeeding experience the mother learns about her baby's cues and she develops nurturing behaviors. Overall, breast milk is nature's best food for young babies.
For all the important reasons to breastfeed children please visit the following web site:
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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