Motherhood is the most enticing phase of a woman’s life. Every new mom or dad wants to gives the best nourishment to their infant. Wading through a dozen of parenting books can be confusing at times. Don’t forget, nature is the best way to be. Breast milk is the best way to cater to your child’s nutritional needs. Many studies point out that breast milk offers benefits beyond basic nutrition. Properly breastfed babies enjoy good health and longevity throughout life.
Breastfeeding should be initiated within an hour of birth. This nurses the child with essential immune factors. Moreover, early initiation of breastfeeding is linked to stronger ‘mother-child’ bonding in the early years of life. The first milk, called ‘colostrum’, has high concentration of protein and is also rich in anti-infective factors. These factors keep the child from the harm of respiratory and diarrhea diseases, which are very common in the neonatal period.
Coming out from the safe and warm environment of mother’s womb, newly born babies are susceptible to many disease causing pathogens present in our environment. Skin- to-skin contact of mother and baby during breastfeeding gives warmth and delivers the most hygienic food to the infant. Besides, sucking is good for the baby as it helps in the development of jaws and teeth. Some breakthrough studies have also touched on the fact that special fat molecules in breast milk lead to increased IQ of the child. A breast-fed baby is likely to be three time more intelligent than a non-breast-fed child.
Stretching out its benefits for the moms, breast feeding lowers the mother’s risk of anemia, boosts her immune system, provides proper pregnancy spacing and reduces the risk to develop breast cancer and osteoporosis in the late years of her life.
What is important to remember is, only breast milk is sufficient for a child’s optimum growth. Doctors suggest no other food is required to be given till 6 months of age. On completion of six months of exclusive breastfeeding, the child should be gradually shifted to artificial and home available weaning foods like cow’s milk, soft cooked rice, mashed potatoes, dal and vegetable soups.
The benefits of breastfeeding are beyond a shadow of a doubt. This age-old practice is the cornerstone to nurturing a healthy kid. It is the best gift a mother can give to her child.