Deciding to breastfeed
Deciding how to feed your baby is one of the most important decisions expectant parents make during pregnancy. The first year of your baby’s life is a time of rapid growth. Most babies triple their birth weight during the first year.
During the first year of life, the brain is growing rapidly as well. The circumference of the head increases by four to five inches in the first year, and the brain and nervous system continue to develop until about age 3. That’s why it’s important to make sure your baby gets the nourishment needed for developing to fullest potential.
Breast milk has all the nutrients your baby needs in the right amounts. It also has antibodies from the mother’s body, which help keep her baby from getting certain types of illnesses. For example, breastfed babies get fewer ear and respiratory infections. A baby who is sick less often is better able to learn. Breast milk provides everything most babies need to build a healthy brain and grow properly for the first six months of life.
For the first six months of life, breast milk provides all of the nutrients a baby needs. When babies are 6 months old, solid foods should be introduced to ensure that the baby is getting adequate nutrition. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is ideal to breastfeed until the baby is at least 12 months old.
Is breastfeeding worth it if I can only do it for a short time? Absolutely! The first milk a new mother’s body produces is the colostrum. Colostrum is especially high in antibodies, which help keep your baby from getting sick. Breastfeeding when your baby is born can help the baby get a healthy start.