The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that, exclusive breastfeeding be given to all babies for the first six months after birth in order to achieve optimal growth and health.
The belief still abounds that feeding a newborn baby with breast milk only is not ideal for the baby; hence some mothers add water and some other liquid to their newborn’s nutrition. This is a very wrong assertion that should be eagerly corrected.
Exclusive breastfeeding means that a baby is fed with only breast milk, without any addition of water, formula or any other liquid or solid. Babies should be given exclusive breastfeeding as early as one hour after birth and should continue for the next six months.
Even when you are not there, do your best to ensure that your baby is fed with expressed breast milk, rather than infant formula.
After the first six months, exclusive breastfeeding is no longer enough for your baby; so you should add other complimentary foods like solids. But ensure that you continue breastfeeding the baby till he or she is at least a year old.
There are several benefits of feeding your baby exclusively with breast milk for the first six months of his life. You and your baby will both benefit from this practice.
Some of the benefits of breastfeeding are highlighted below.
- It protects your baby against infections and illnesses such as meningitis, urine infection, etc.
- It is the best nutrition for your newborn baby.
- Your baby will grow and develop both physically and emotionally.
- It reduces the risk of obesity in your baby.
- It offers some forms of protection against allergies.
- It increases the bond between you and your baby.
- It can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, osteoporosis or hip fracture in you, the mother.
- It can reduce the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer in you, the mother.
- It reduces the risk of asthma, chronic tummy problems or childhood cancer in the baby.
- It reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in infants.