The Best Nutrition
The Best Nutrition
by Dr. Sonia Arthungal
Since we all want what’s best for our baby, what better way than to start with the basics: nutrition! These days, there are so many choices for feeding baby. We are bombarded by advertisements for baby formula and baby food. So, what is the best nutrition for our babies? What will help them to grow the best, protect them from diseases and even boost their IQ? Breastfeeding!
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend breastfeeding exclusively until 6 months old and continuing breastfeeding until one to two years old. Studies show that breastfeeding is the best nutrition for baby because, of all foods, it is easiest on the baby’s digestive system, it decreases the risk of acute infections (eg, ear infections and colds) and even long term illnesses (eg, allergies and obesity). It also has lots of benefits for mom, including quicker postpartum recovery, quicker weight loss after pregnancy and decreased risk for chronic diseases (eg, cancer and osteoporosis). In the US, breastfeeding is estimated to prevent over 911 infant deaths per year and to save $1000 per year to family expenses.
Many mothers are nervous about breastfeeding. Will I have enough milk? Will I know how to do it? Will it be uncomfortable? Education is key. New parents can join a breastfeeding class, talk to a family member or friend who has experience in breastfeeding, consult a lactation specialist and make an appointment with the pediatrician to discuss breastfeeding options.
It is important to try to start breastfeeding within 1 hour of the delivery. Babies have a natural reflex to root and suck right after birth, so parents can take advantage of this! Afterwards, mom can continue to feed the baby on demand, but no longer than three hours between feedings. New moms should allow for a one to two week adjustment period to get comfortable with the breastfeeding. During this time, it is critical to follow up with the pediatrician regularly to make sure the baby is growing appropriately.
Breastfeeding is nature’s best nutrition for our babies. Over time, it is the easiest and most cost effective method to feed baby. Let’s choose breastfeeding and enjoy the many health benefits for years to come!
Great resources for more breastfeeding information include:
1. American Academy of Pediatrics
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention