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By Ruth Nchekei

23rd July 2021

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Benefits of breastfeeding to the baby

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding a baby within the first hour of life. According to them, a 6 months, exclusively breastfed baby, is at a better advantage compared to a formula fed baby.

This isn’t to mean that formula fed babies are less likely to enjoy good health– far from it.

Research helps us understand, sometimes there’s no let-down of breast milk, and that’s where formula comes in.

This article is for mothers who have enough milk supply but are considering not to breastfeed their babies; or for that curious pregnant woman.

The benefits of breastfeeding for baby far outweigh the challenges of breastfeeding you might have experienced.

There are also amazing health benefits of breastfeeding to moms: From reduced risk of breast cancer to weight loss; but this article will focus on the benefits of breastfeeding to a baby.

Breastfeeding can help protect babies against asthma, ear infections, gastrointestinal problems, and sudden infant death syndrome (sids) 

It’s important to breastfeed within baby’s first hour of life so that they can get colostrum.

Of the components in colostrum is: Lactoferrin, which is not just a protein but also, an immune booster.

Breast milk is known to contain more antibodies that prevent ear infections, respiratory problems like asthma, type 2 diabetes and even diarrhoea. When breastfed babies get into adulthood, they are less likely to suffer from weight problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes; or cancer.

Want fewer trips to the hospital? Breastfeed your baby.

Breast milk contains antibodies that help protect against illness and disease 

Breastfeeding is good for the baby’s teeth

For the health of your baby’s teeth, breastfeed! Studies have shown, a breastfeeding infant is less likely to get tooth decay, compared to one artificially fed.

One of the reasons could be the mechanism in swallowing while breastfeeding is different from that of swallowing while having a bottle-feed. How? When babies are breastfeeding, the nipple is shoved deep into the mouth– the milk is literally squirted into the throat, with no chance of washing the teeth as baby swallows. Bottle feeding, on the other hand, brings milk into contact with baby teeth as they prepare to swallow, causing formation of bacteria around the mouth.

Breastfeeding not only promotes optimal jaw and tooth development, but also may improve the bone growth of a child’s face, thanks to the high calcium content in breast milk. A breastfed child is less likely to suffer from crooked teeth or malocclusion and, if they are breastfed for longer than six months, then this risk can be reduced by up to 75%.

Breastfeeding helps babies sleep better

Breast milk changes in composition throughout the day, owing to the different yet functional hormones and chemicals it contains. The sleep-inducing hormones and chemicals found in breast milk at night are, melatonin and nucleotides respectively. This is why mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their children as they sleep at night. Remember, babies aren’t able to produce melatonin on their own, thus, a breastfed baby will get a high concentration of this hormone, which also helps relieve colic.

Cholecystokinin, another sleep-inducing hormone found in breast milk, is also said to help babies feel fuller. That means no hunger pangs to give mother and baby restless nights.

Another reason babies sleep better when breastfed is: Breast milk has higher levels of whey than protein, thus easy on the baby’s digestive system. This reduces reflux or gas that’s notoriously known to wake babies from their sleep. A calm tummy is a restful night for mother and baby.

Breastfed babies enjoy a number of psychological advantages

Research shows breastfed babies have great psychological milestones that last into adulthood.

When they are in the womb for 9 months, they get used to the noiseless and safe space in there. Once in the world, they need that continuity that breastfeeding largely contributes to. As a mother, you become your baby’s world; so breastfeeding assures him/her of safety and comfort. Establishing this trust when they are young will help them grow into adults who view the world as a kind and safe place.

Moms are advised to make eye contact while breastfeeding their babies. Their vision isn’t fully developed at first, but as it continues to, understand, they are looking for more than eye contact. They are looking for love and assurance that’s right behind your eyes. While breastfeeding, mom, you’re advised to lovingly talk to them, and even smile– it goes a long way.

Tip: As much as possible, avoid using your phone while breastfeeding.

Overall, breastfed babies grow into confident adults, because each time you trusted their cries for comfort by breastfeeding them, they in turn trusted themselves.

Your breasts will produce more breast milk for your baby

If you want to have enough breast milk supply, keep breastfeeding in order to trigger the brain into producing more.

More breast milk means a baby’s demand to be nursed will be met, and he/she will be happier– will cry less.

To conclude,

American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breastfeeding during six-month cycles. The Australian Breastfeeding Program urges moms to continue breastfeeding for an extra year or more. The WHO recommends that children be kept breastfed for up to six months at minimum.

If the system was widely embraced it could lower infant mortality rates globally.

Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure health of your children.

Let’s hear more in the comments section.

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