Why is breastfeeding important for your child?

Undernutrition is associated with more than one third of the global disease burden for children under 5. Infant and young child feeding is a key area to improve child survival and promote healthy growth and development. The first 2 years of a child’s life are particularly important, as optimal nutrition during this period lowers morbidity and mortality, reduces the risk of chronic disease, and fosters better development overall.

WHO and UNICEF recommend:

(1) Early initiation of breastfeeding with one hour of birth;

(2) Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life;

(3) The introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond.

Early breast milk is liquid gold – Known as liquid gold, colostrumis the thick yellow first breast milk that you make during pregnancy and just after birth. This milk is very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby. Although your baby only gets a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, it matches the amount his or her tiny stomach can hold.

Breast milk is also an important source of energy and nutrients in children aged 6 to 23 months. It can provide half or more of a child’s energy needs between the ages of 6 and 12 months, and one third of energy needs between 12 and 24 months. Breast milk is also a critical source of energy and nutrients during illness, and reduces mortality among children who are malnourished.

Breastfeeding doesn’t only benefit your baby. It benefits your health too. Breastfeeding is good for mums as it:

(1) Lowers your risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer

(2) Naturally uses up to 500 calories a day

(3) Saves money – infant formula, the sterilising equipment and feeding equipment can be costly

(4) Can help to build a strong bond between you and your baby.

It is important to consult constantly with your doctor to set up an adequate nutrition plan for your baby....