8 Valuable Benefits of Breastfeeding for Child Development

A newborn has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three. – World Health Organization

Immense Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom & Baby

Breastfeeding is considered to be a very significant and important role of a mom. It is the process that transfers all the essential nutrients to the baby. It helps to build the baby’s immune system and plays a major role in the development of the newborn baby.

Your baby and the baby’s development is totally dependent on your milk for all the nutritional requirements which make breastfeeding all the more significant for the child.

Holding your bundle of joy in your arms is the greatest joy you can ever experience. Why would you want to take any risk with your baby’s health and well-being? You surely would not want anything to go wrong and would only want the best for the baby.

Breastfed Milk is The Golden Liquid

The milk that the baby gets from breastfeeding is no less than the magical potion/ magical liquid for the baby. It is called the “golden liquid” for a reason.

Breast milk is the complete, wholesome diet for the baby with all the essential nutrients required the baby. WHO (World Health Organization) highly insists and recommends breastfeeding of kids for at least 6 months of age.

As per research and its data, if breastfeeding is taken seriously then at least per year 820,000 lives of kids can be saved.

Breast milk is the ideal perfect and the best food, nutrition for the baby, and that is why it is highly recommended by the doctors, nutritionists, and experts across the globe.

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Breastmilk Nutrition Facts

ComponentMean value for mature breastmilk (per 100mL)
Energy (kJ)280
Energy (kcal)67
Protein (g)1.3
Fat (g)4.2
Carbohydrate (g)7.0
Sodium (mg)15
Calcium (mg)35
Phosphorus (mg)15
Iron (mcg)76
Vitamin A (mcg)60
Vitamin C (mg)3.8
Vitamin D (mcg)0.01
Source: NHMRC Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia, 2003
8 Valuable Benefits of Breastfeeding for Child Development TNH 6 benefits of breastfeeding TNH, CHILD NUTRITION Nutrition, TNH The Nutrition Hunt Smit Kumar

Why is breastfeeding so important?

There are various reasons why breast milk is considered to be the elixir for the baby. The milk-fed during breastfeeding not only protects the baby but also has various other health benefits. Breast milk contains white blood cells, stem cells, and bacteria that are beneficial for health.

Bioactive components like antibodies, hormones, enzymes present in breast milk help fight infections and diseases. Breastfeeding reduces the chances of diarrhoea, stomach problems, colds, flu, ear, and chest infection, a risk of heart diseases. It also reduces the chances of the baby having issues like asthma, respiratory problems, or allergies.

According to Professor Peter Hartmann who is a professor at the University of Western Australia and is also an expert on breastfeeding and lactation, a baby who is breastfed will recover faster from the illness due to the antibodies present in the mother’s breast milk which helps, fight and recover from infections and diseases.

Not only that, but breastfeeding also provides comfort and relaxation to a baby that can not be compared to anything in the world. It creates a bond between the mom and baby apart from maintaining the baby’s body weight.

Benefits of Breastfeeding for Premature babies

A baby born before week 37 is considered a premature baby. A premature baby is more vulnerable to infections and requires extra care.

Breastfeeding is extremely important and exceptionally beneficial for premature babies. Breast milk protects premature babies against lung diseases, chronic diseases, viruses, and infections. It helps in the breakdown of food making digestion easy for the baby.

Also, breastfeeding helps with the mental and physical development of the premature baby as well as leads to better IQ and cardiac functions later in life. According to healthcare experts, it is not just milk, it is their medicine to survive. It is important to breastfeed the premature baby if you want them to come from the hospital soon.

8 Valuable Benefits of Breastfeeding for Child Development TNH 7 benefits of breastfeeding TNH, CHILD NUTRITION Nutrition, TNH The Nutrition Hunt Smit Kumar

Benefits for a Baby beyond 6 months of Breastfeeding

You may think that once your baby is 6 months old, there is no dependency on the breast milk of the baby anymore. Think again! The health benefits of breastfeeding for children cannot be covered with solid food.

Dr. Leon Mitoulas, who is the Medela’s Head of the Breastfeeding research, states that “According to WHO, breastfeeding is very important for the first 1000 days of a child’s life after birth. It is significant for the mental as well as physical development of the child. In fact, WHO does not believe in setting any maximum breastfeeding duration for the child that may go up to 7 years for some mothers and their child in special cases.”

Even after reaching the milestone of 6 months, milk does not become just a complimentary drink for the child. It is important that the baby’s dietary and calories specific requirements get fulfilled ahead by solid food and milk which are important even after 6 months, as for a newborn baby. The baby still receives significant nutrition from breast milk.

As per research, breast milk constitutes 43 per cent of protein requirement, 60 per cent of vitamin C required by the baby, 75 per cent of vitamin A, 76 per cent of the requirement of folate, and 94 per cent of baby’s requirement of vitamin B12.

Breastfeeding for an extended period of time has shown to reduce the risks of contract diseases and protects against diseases like breast cancer (lymphocytic leukaemia), diabetes, a dental problem, or obesity. They tend to have straighter teeth and better eyesight as well.

There is no reason why mothers should not take breastfeeding seriously even beyond 6 months of the process. Breast milk is more like medicine for a baby that should not be ignored for the better development of the baby.

Breastfeeding has a calming and soothing effect on the child, nurture the baby leading to better mental health, IQ of the child as compared to the kids who are not breastfed, and end up having behavioural issues later in life.

8 Valuable Long Term Benefits of Breastfeeding for Child development

8 Valuable Benefits of Breastfeeding for Child Development TNH 5 benefits of breastfeeding TNH, CHILD NUTRITION Nutrition, TNH The Nutrition Hunt Smit Kumar

According to experts, breastfeeding has numerous benefits for the development of a child – mental, physical, and emotional. There are more reasons than one why breastfeeding is considered over formula milk.

1. Immune system

Children who are breastfed tend to have a stronger immune system. Immunity is another reason why breastfeeding is important. It makes the child stronger, less prone to falling sick/ ill.

Breastfeeding makes the child immune and capable to cope well with adverse health situations and makes them less vulnerable to catching infections due to the presence of antibodies in breast milk.

2. Fights allergies

Another reason, why Breastfeeding is important, is that breast milk contains enzymes that easily digest food. Breast milk is easily digested by the baby’s system. Breast milk contains proteins, essential fatty acids, stem cells, hormones required for the baby’s health and growth.

Babies who are fed on cow’s milk or formula milk instead of breast milk tends to suffer from allergies and childhood asthma.

3. Bond between Mom & Baby

Breastfeeding builds an emotional bond between the mom and the baby. It is the base of emotional bonding and support between the two. According to the research, it has been found that while breastfeeding, the mother releases a hormone that helps relax and soothe and reduce stress.

4. Cost and Convenience

Along with other benefits, breastfeeding does not cost anything. You do not require bottles, warming up, sanitization, or any formula or mix. You do not need to buy expensive formula.

Breastfeeding, on the other hand, is absolutely free and does not require taking care of measurements while mixing and preparing using formula.

5. Fights chronic diseases

Breast milk keeps diseases at bay and helps fight infections, bacteria, and viruses. It reduces the possibility of having diseases /health problems like high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, breast cancer, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases later in life.

6. Body weight management of baby
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As per the American Academy of Pediatrics, a person who is breastfed in childhood has fewer chances of suffering from obesity as a child or adult. Breast milk contains more health-boosting hormones as compared to formula milk.

Children fed on formula milk tend to develop overeating habits and gain weight easily as compared to kids who are breastfed.

7. Breastfeeding for baby’s sleep

It is a myth that babies who are formula-fed, they sleep longer. In fact, breast milk contains hormones that develop a rhythmic and healthy sleep-wake pattern in babies.

Formula milk or breast milk, in both cases the baby may wake at night for milk, but if the baby is breastfed, the baby will go back to sleep sooner because of the oxytocin produced during breastfeeding. Breastfeeding produces oxytocin which makes the baby go to sleep afterwards.

8. Brain development of baby

Breast milk plays a significant role in the development of the baby’s brain. The first six months are crucial for the baby’s brain development. Babies that are breastfed are shown to have better IQ and good grades in school/exams later in life.

According to research, it is due to the presence of fatty acids like DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) in breast milk that contributes to the development of the brain of the child.

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What does Breast milk contain? How is it better than formula milk or cow milk?

Breast milk is known to have several health benefits and provide energy, essential nutrients, and hydration to the baby. Not just that, it builds the brain, digestive, and immune system of the infant.

Cow milk is even considered toxic for babies by professor Peter Hartman because of its high concentration of sodium in the milk. Whereas, mother’s milk is considered to be the safest for the baby due to its low concentration of sodium.

  • Breast milk is known to have colostrum which coats the stomach lining of the blood cells which also helps in the baby’s growth.
  • Breast milk contains antibodies and white blood cells that protect the baby from diseases and fight infections.
  • It contains hormones that form the bond between the mom and the baby and form a rhythmic sleep-wake pattern in the baby.
  • The stem cells present in the mother’s milk help in the development of the baby’s organs.
  • Fatty acids, present in breast milk are, good for the development of the baby’s eyes, nervous system, and the brain.
  • Breast milk contains enzymes and some bacteria that improve the digestive system of the baby.
  • Enzymes that are present in the mother’s milk are good for the immune system of the baby.

5 Best Breastfeeding tips for New Moms

  • Always look, watch over your baby to see if the baby needs food or is hungry?
  • Be Observant and vigilant to notice if the baby requires milk. Do not wait for the baby to cry, observe, note the pattern as to when the baby feels hungry, and needs to be breastfed.
  • Don’t be in a hurry. Relax and be patient. Spend time. It usually takes 10-20 minutes on each breast for the baby to be fed.
  • As per the researchers, the baby needs to be breastfed at least 10-12 times a day in the initial weeks or every two to three hours.
  • Choose a position in which you and baby both are comfortable.

FAQs: Benefits of Breastfeeding for Child Development

  • Q: What is colostrum?
  • A: The first milk from your breasts after the birth of your baby is known as colostrum. It is thick and yellow, extremely healthy and a must for your baby. Colostrum builds the digestive tract for the baby which helps digest the breast milk.
  • Q: For how long should I breastfeed my baby?
  • A: According to the World Health Organization, there is no maximum set duration for breastfeeding the baby. You can breastfeed your baby for at least 2 years. In this case the more, the better. You can continue to breastfeed even after six months when your baby starts consuming solid food.
8 Valuable Benefits of Breastfeeding for Child Development TNH 3 benefits of breastfeeding TNH, CHILD NUTRITION Nutrition, TNH The Nutrition Hunt Smit Kumar

Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby, and the earth.

All things being equal, breast milk is best for babies. Yet all things are not equal, not by a long shot.

Mothers and babies form an inseparable biological and social unit; the health and nutrition of one group cannot be divorced from the health and nutrition of the other.

Smit Kumar

Health & Wellness Coach: Smit Kumar believes in the philosophy of successful nutrition hunting mindset for the healthy body, mind and spirit. https://thenutritionhunt.com

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