WHO strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. At six months, other foods should complement breastfeeding for up to two years or more. http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/breastfeeding/facts/en/index.html
From head to toe, babies who breastfeed for extended periods of time are healthier overall. They tend to have leaner bodies with less risk of obesity. They also have improved vision, since the eye is similar to the brain in regards to nervous tissue. They have better hearing due to a lower incidence of ear infections. Their dental health is generally good, since the natural sucking action of the breastfed infant helps incoming teeth align properly. Intestinal health is also much better than those of non-breastfed babies, as breast milk is easier to digest, reducing spit-up, reflux, and constipation. A toddler's immune system functions much better since breastmilk contains an immunoglobulin (IGA) which coats the lining of the intestines, which helps prevent germs from penetrating through. Even the skin of these babies is smoother and more supple.
In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
- 29% of energy requirements
- 43% of protein requirements
- 36% of calcium requirements
- 75% of vitamin A requirements
- 76% of folate requirements
- 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
- 60% of vitamin C requirements
– Dewey 2001
reastfeeding contributes to your child’s HEALTH
- The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness (AAFP 200 .
- Breastfeeding toddlers between the ages of one and three have been found to have fewer illnesses, illnesses of shorter duration, and lower mortality rates (Mølbak 1994, van den Bogaard 1991, Gulick 1986).
- “Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation” (Nutrition During Lactation1991; p. 134). In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Lawrence & Lawrence 2011, Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).
- Per the World Health Organization, “a modest increase in breastfeeding rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five: Breastfeeding plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment and prevention of childhood illness.” [emphasis added]
Breastfeeding contributes to your child’s INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT
Extensive research on the relationship between cognitive achievement (IQ scores, grades in school) and breastfeeding has shown the greatest gains for those children breastfed the longest.
Scientific research by Katherine A. Dettwyler, PhD shows that 2.5 to 7.0 years of nursing is what our children have been designed to expect by nature (Dettwyler 1995).