Breast milk is undoubtedly one of the greatest gifts of nature. For the past some years, science had begun understanding the importance of breast milk for babies. Some of benefits of breastfeeding include strengthening of the immune system, lower risk of obesity, reduced risk of diarrhea, lesser risk of allergies and higher brain development.
Breast milk is the life line for newborns and infants, because it is the only source of food for them. It not only carries nutrients to the baby, but it also carries a load of biochemicals that aid in physical and brain development and enhance the immune system, aid in of the baby as well. Breast milk makes the baby healthier than bottle fed or formula fed baby or a baby fed with a combination of both breast milk and bottle.
Many sophisticated formulas have been developed over the years. But, these formula milks haven’t come even closer to breast milk. In other words, scientists haven’t been able to produce a formula which can truly substitute breast milk. Although, a truly substituting formula for breast milk hasn’t been found, yet, breast milk banks are being developed in various parts of the world, just like blood and organ banks. This is perhaps, a novel approach to the problem of finding breast milk for babies.
Doctors and scientists recommend feeding babies only with breast milk, at least for the first six months. Even during the next six months, breast milk is fed to babies apart from solid or semi-solid foods.
Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Your Kid
Nutrition in human breast milk
According to the Jenness, the nutritional components found in breast milk include
|Nutrition||Value per 100 ml||Nutrition||Value per 100 ml|
|Lactose/ Carbohydrates||7%||Protein||0.8 – 0.8%|
|Lactoferin||0.2 g||Casein||0.4 g|
|Calcium||30 mg||Sodium||15 mg|
|Phosphorous||15 mg||Vitamin A||75 mg|
|Vitamin B1||14 mg||Vitamin B2||40 mg|
|Vitamin C||5 mg|
Stages of breast milk
Breast milk comes in three stages. Colostrum, transitional milk and mature milk.
Colostrum: Colostrum is the first milk that the mother develops. This milk usually develops within the first few days after the delivery. It is creamier and thicker in comparison with regular breast milk and is yellow in color. The extra thickness is full of high fats, vitamins, minerals, protein and most importantly, it is rich in antibodies.
Transitional milk: Transitional milk is the second stage of breast milk. This milk is less thicker in comparison with colostrum, but it is thick. It also has high amount of fats, lactose and vitamins, minerals and calories. The lactose and calorie content is higher, compared to colostrum.
Mature milk: Mature milk is the final stage of breast milk. This milk is high in water content, about 90% of it, which is used for hydration of the baby. The rest of it contains lactose, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals.
Read More: 7 Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding Your Baby
Benefits of breast milk for babies
Listed below are some of the innumerable benefits of breast feeding babies.
Strengthening the immune system: The first milk after the delivery, which happens usually within few days of the delivery is indispensable for the baby. It has been noted that no other milk can substitute this milk because it contains immunity building enzymes and antibodies apart from protein, fat soluble vitamins and minerals.
Reduced chances of obesity: The chances of babies becoming obese will be reduced drastically when they are breastfed. There are studies that say that formula-fed babies have higher chances of gaining more weight while growing up.
Reduced risk of diarrhea: The risk of diarrhea increases drastically in formula-fed babies. This risk can be averted by feeding your baby with breast milk from the very beginning. Diarrhea is one of the biggest killer in infants. Diarrhea associated with formula-fed babies has been noted to be higher.
Lesser risk of allergies: Allergies have been noted to be higher in bottle-fed or formula-fed babies, compared to highly breast-fed and exclusively breast-fed babies. The incidence of allergies has been noted to have reduced in breastfed infants. This continued through adolescence.
Higher brain development: Recent study on MRI scans taken on sleeping babies aged between 6 months to 2 years of age have shown that exclusively formula-fed babies showed lesser brain development than babies who were fed with both breast milk and formula milk and exclusively fed with breast milk. Of all the babies, those babies who were exclusively breastfed showed the highest level of brain development.
With these benefits it is clear that breast milk is the best food for your baby during the first 6 months. Later on, solid or semi-solid foods can be introduced to the baby, but breastfeeding can be continued till the baby is at least 1 year of age.