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Your Growing Baby
First few days
In the first days of breastfeeding, a mother releases colostrum. Colostrum is a thick milk that often has a yellow color. Sometimes it is referred to as "liquid gold" because of the color and its value to your baby. Mom makes only a small amount of colostrum, which matches the size of your newborn’s stomach perfectly.
When your baby drinks the antibodies contained in colostrum, it is like giving him his first immunization! Colostrum is also high in protein, which is perfect for newborns, and helps them pass the dark, sticky stools (called meconium) they have in the first day or two.
Nurse your baby often in the first few days so that he'll get plenty of colostrum and you'll build a strong milk supply.
The protein in breastmilk is much easier to digest than the protein in formula. This makes your baby less likely to have digestive problems, such as gassiness, rashes and colic.
4 to 6 Weeks
Breastfed babies are much less likely to be sick during the first 2 months of life and beyond.
3 to 4 Months
Breastfeeding can help protect babies against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is particularly important during the first 4 months of life.
Your baby's immunities are lowest between 2 to 6 months of age. By breastfeeding, you are providing him the best protection during this vulnerable time. If you get a cold, it is essential to keep giving your baby breastmilk. Antibodies and anti-viruses that your body makes to protect yourself will get passed through your milk to help protect him too.
When you nurse for 6 months, your baby will have fewer ear infections and will be much less likely to have problems with diarrhea and respiratory infections. It even helps the immunizations he gets at the doctor's office work better.
Babies who are breastfed for at least 6 months have a lower chance of getting childhood cancer.
Breastmilk also helps with brain development. Studies show that children who breastfeed may have higher IQs and do better in school.
Breastfeeding helps babies form healthy face muscles and structure. This can help prevent the need for speech therapy or orthodontia when they get older.
More than a year
If your baby nurses for more than a year, you will continue to provide him with nutritious and protective milk. With each exposure you have to germs, colds and allergens, you continue to pass along the anti-allergens, antibodies and anti-viruses he needs to keep him strong.
Why is breastfeeding so good for baby? Because it's:
Good for humans.
Breastmilk is human milk for human babies. It is custom-made by each mom and changes over time to meet her baby's needs. Mom's milk has hundreds more ingredients than formula and protects baby from illness. When an infant is born early, his mother's milk is essential because it is specifically made to meet his developmental needs.
Good for health now.
Breastfed babies are healthier and get sick less often. They are less likely to have stomach problems, infections such as ear and respiratory infections, getting the cold or flu, and being hospitalized for pneumonia and meningitis.
Good for health later.
The benefits of breastfeeding last far after breastfeeding has stopped. Breastfeeding helps protect against childhood leukemia as well as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension later on.