Breastfeeding lays the foundation for good health for all children. It benefits the baby both in short and long terms. Taking the same into consideration, new mothers are advised to exclusively breast feed their young ones for the first 6 months post-delivery. It is also encouraged beyond that, until at least 12 months, and longer if both the mother and baby are willing. Working mothers should opt for milk storage facility or should take out time in their busy schedules to feed their babies. This selfless act creates bonding between the mother and the baby and benefits both.
When to Breastfeed your Baby – Frequency?
Breastfeeding provides an ideal nutrition to the baby. It is nearly a perfect mix of vitamins, minerals and proteins; in short it has everything that the baby needs to grow. It is recommended to breast feed the baby within an hour of birth. Newborn babies should be breast fed every 1-3 hours i.e. 8 – 10 times in 24 hours for 10-15 minutes every time in the first two to four weeks of birth. As babies grows, the size of the stomach gradually increases and also the volume of milk comes down. The breast feeding duration and frequency therefore changes. From age 1 -6 months, baby needs to be fed for 20 to 40 minutes per breast every 3 – 4 hours.
Benefits of Breast Milk:
The breast milk helps in boosting the immunity of newborns against a wide range of infections both respiratory and intestinal infections. The antibodies that fight against such infections are transferred by the mother to the baby via the breast milk. This protection lasts till several early childhood years. Breast fed babies are also less likely to have coronary artery diseases in adult life.
Breast Milk Vs Formula Milk:
Feeding the baby with infant formula in the first six months (breast milk substitutes) should be considered only if it is acceptable, affordable, feasible, sustainable and safe for the mother and child. If all these conditions can be met, the baby can be fed a quality breast milk substitute alone for the first six months, with no breast milk or other foods.