Breast milk is the first food that your little one consumes and it is unparalleled in its nutritional content. It contains the perfect mix of vitamins, proteins, fats and carbohydrates that are essential for the growth and development of babies. Breast milk, one of mother nature’s most beautiful gifts, is built in such a way that it meets all the nutritional requirement for the first 6 months of life. Only a few other foods in the world can come close to this nature’s gift.
The first 6 months of your baby’s life are extremely crucial and breastmilk has a very important role to play in it. According to WHO, Exclusive breastfeeding, i.e., feeding your baby only breastmilk and nothing else (not even water) is highly recommended during this period. Here’s why:
Breast milk contains a lot of enzymes, hormones and fatty acids like DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid) which are vital for the development and maintenance of brain tissue. It results in enhanced development in the key parts of the brain when compared to babies who are not breastfed. Certain studies show that children who were breastfed as babies are more likely to be intelligent.
Easy on the stomach
Introducing solid foods too early on (before 6 months) can lead to digestive problems and malnutrition. This is because the gastrointestinal tract of babies does not produce digestive enzymes similar to that of adults. Your baby needs gentle nutrition during this period and breast milk is perfect for it. Breast milk contains an enzyme called lactose which helps in softer stool formation. The protein in the milk also forms softer curds in the stomach because breast milk has higher whey protein when compared to cow’s milk.
Breastfeeding also comes with long-term benefits for both you and your child. Breastfed babies are at a lower risk of developing immunological based diseases like asthma, Type-1 diabetes, leukaemia and so on. Research shows that obesity, high levels of blood pressure and heart problems are more common among kids who were not breastfed.
Studies show that exclusively breastfed babies have greater immune systems because of the antibodies present in the breast milk. The immune factors in the breast milk will protect your baby against common childhood illnesses like respiratory problems, ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhoea, constipation and much more.
Exclusive breastfeeding not only aids the overall development of your baby, it is very beneficial for you too. The skin-on-skin contact and eye contact helps strengthen the mommy-baby bond. Even after the 6-month mark, breastfeeding should be continued as it provides more than half of the nutrition your baby needs. You can continue to breastfeed for as long as 2 years (Your baby should also receive complementary foods) and reap its rewards for years to come.
Note- This blog has been reviewed by Tinystep Medical Advisory Board
Disclaimer: All the information provided in the blog is for reference purposes only. Please do not consider this as a medical advice. Start Healthy Stay Healthy programme is for educational purposes only, in partnership with doctors. Always consult a doctor if you have any questions related to your own health or the health of your child.