The first consideration that comes to mind when we talk of feeding infants is the newborn child and for this, all our mothers are gifted by God with the best of Nature’s gift called Breast Milk.
World Health Organisation actively promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nourishment for infants and young children. Every year World Breastfeeding Week is dedicated to being August 1st-7thaccording to WHO, UNICEF, and other organizations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. WHO and UNICEF recommend that children initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life –meaning no other foods or liquids are provided, including water. Breast milk is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival and is ideal for infants. It is safe, clean, and contains antibodies that help protect against many common childhood illnesses.
Advantages of Breastfeeding:
- It is the complete food by itself for the baby till 6 months of life in all respects. It is rich in fats, especially the essential fatty acids and the protein quality is just right for the baby. It is unique in that it is rich in lipase, an enzyme that is poor in other milk sources.
- It has a water content that is adequate to meet the requirement and no need to feed water as long as the baby is exclusively breastfed.
- It is rich in antibodies that help the baby fight against any infections.
- A protein present in breast milk called lactalbumin is easily digestible.
- The bioavailability of Iron present in breast milk is high and this prevents the baby from being anaemic.
- Breastfed children who perform better on intelligence tests are less likely to be overweight or obese and less prone to diabetes later in life according to WHO.
- Breast milk ensures stability by emotional bonding of mother and child. It gives a feeling of security to the child.
- It helps to burn off extra fat deposited during pregnancy besides possibly decreasing the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer in mothers at a later stage.
- Breastfeeding helps her to lose the weight that she had gained during the course of her pregnancy and helps regain her figure.
So Breastfeeding is the best way to provide all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year and up to one third during the second year of life.