The World Health Organization (WHO) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), as well as several other leading professional associations and authorities, recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six (6) months of their life. That is a big commitment for any mother and family. Statistics show that only 13% of US families reach this mark. Have you considered why WHO and AAP make this recommendation and why it is so important for you to breastfeed your baby?
I strongly recommend that you read, or at least skim, the AAP’s Policy Statement on breastfeeding for an in-depth understanding of the benefits of breastfeeding your baby. Some of the benefits discussed in the Policy Statement include:
- Hospitalizations for lower respiratory tract infections in the first year of a baby’s life are reduced 72% for babies breastfeed exclusively for more than four (4) months.
- Breastfeeding an infant results in a 64% reduction in gastrointestinal tract infections, which reduced risk continues for two (2) months after cessation of breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding is associated with a 36% reduced risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Breastfeeding is associated with a 15-30% reduction in both adolescent and adult obesity rates.
- Infants who are exclusively breastfeed for at least three (3) months have a 30% less chance of developing type 1 diabetes mellitus.
This is just a small sample of the quantifiable benefits to breastfed babies. In light of these and other statistics, many leading experts would suggest that you not look at the benefits of breastfeeding, but look at the dangers in not breastfeeding.
Educating yourself, and recognizing the benefits you will be providing to your little bundle of joy, will be all the motivation you need to set high goals for your breastfeeding journey.