Benefits of Breastfeeding for Infants: Nine Advantages of Nursing
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that when it comes to feeding a newborn, breast milk is best. There are numerous advantages to breastfeeding as opposed to feeding babies formula, and while no mother should ever feel guilty about how she feeds her child, it’s good to know what some of these advantages are so you can make the right decision in the end.
While some of these advantages are well known, others are not. Below is a list of nine advantages that infants receive when their mothers decide to breastfeed.
1. It Builds up Their Immune Systems
One of the biggest perks that breast-feeding infants get is a strong immune system. Breast milk has natural antibodies that build up the baby’s immune system and reduces the odds of the baby having any type of allergies.
It also decreases the odds of certain problems, including ear infections, upper-respiratory problems, and even diarrhea. These advantages are the result of having a stronger immune system that can withstand exposure to certain allergens and conditions that can cause these problems.
2. It Has Superb Nutritional Value
When it comes to health benefits, breast milk really is a perfect food. It always has just the right amounts of protein, fat, water, sugar, and minerals that allow the baby to grow and thrive regardless of their age. This amounts to the baby getting everything they need for the right development and growth.
Even better, it changes as the baby’s nutritional needs change, so as long as you’re eating healthy and there are no problems, you can keep your baby healthy regardless of how long you decide to nurse.
3. It Is Super Easy to Digest
Even when compared to the best formula, breast milk is always easier to digest. Because of the composition of breast milk, it is perfect for newborn tummies and therefore greatly reduces the odds of the baby having gas, constipation, and numerous other tummy problems.
When you give your baby breast milk and nothing else, the odds of them experiencing any type of digestive and tummy problems are practically nil. Of course, you still have to eat right and take care of yourself, but if you do this, your baby will only need breast milk to grow.
4. It Is Never Too Much for Your Baby to Eat
Some moms worry about their babies gaining too much weight during the first year of life, and this is nearly impossible to happen when you feed them breast milk instead of formula. In fact, because breast milk has the perfect amount of nutrients, your baby will gain a healthy amount of weight without being overweight. This means that when you bring your baby in for a checkup, their weight gain should be just perfect month after month.
5. It Can Actually Soothe and Comfort Your Baby
Because of its composition and its perfect combination of nutrients, breast milk can comfort and soothe the baby when needed. Each mother has to decide for herself how often to feed her baby, but some women will nurse just to calm the baby down, and it works every time.
When you add to this the fact that there is a lot of skin-to-skin contact during each breastfeeding session, it’s a little wonder why babies are happy and comfortable when being breastfed. It really isn't that different from the comfort level they felt in the womb.
6. It Reduces the Odds of Getting Certain Conditions
In part because of its many healthy nutrients and its ability to build up the baby’s immune system, it is much less likely that the baby will get certain conditions, even later in life. These include osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers such as ovarian and breast cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even cardiovascular disease.
Breastfed babies are also much less likely to suffer sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, providing their moms with the peace of mind that they deserve.
7. If the Baby Is a Preemie, Breast Milk Is Perfect
Premature babies have special nutritional needs and formula may not always be the perfect food to give them. This is not so with breast milk. Breast milk is always right for your infant, and many of the short-term and long-term health problems that some premature infants experience simply doesn’t exist when they’re breastfed. All babies respond well to breast milk, and this seems to be even truer with preemies.
8. It Can Help with a Baby’s Speech Patterns Later in Life
There are a lot of concerns when it comes to the nipples used when bottle-feeding an infant, which is probably why there are so many of them now on the market. Nipples come in many different designs, sizes, and materials, and some of them have been known to cause orthodontic and even speech problems as the child gets older. This doesn’t happen when you breastfeed because the human nipple is the perfect one to use to feed a human child.
9. It Might Reduce the Odds of Obesity Later in Life
Breastfed babies are less likely to be overweight later in life, and there are two possibilities regarding why this is so. First, the hormone leptin, which controls appetite and weight, is higher in breastfed babies than it is in formula-fed babies. Second, it is nearly impossible to overfeed a baby when they’re breastfed, and it is thought that this allows them to be more in tune with food signals and therefore won’t overeat when they’re older.