Breastfeeding provides many health benefits to your baby

Ms Kellie Kong, Dietetian​​​ from the​ ​Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group says​​, “As a mother, you probably put your baby’s needs first. However, when it comes to breastfeeding, both you and your baby stand to gain tremendously from it.”

How your breast milk and breastfeeding benefits your baby

  1. Breast milk changes to provide ideal nutrition for your baby

    Your breast milk contains the right proportion of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals needed for your baby’s growth and development. In fact, your breast milk is ‘tailor-made’ for your baby and its nutritional composition changes with your baby’s age.

    For example, for up to ten days after delivery, your body produces a first type of milk, a yellowish liquid called colostrum. Colostrum is rich in antibodies, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals that help protect your baby from bacteria and diseases until his own immune system develops properly.

  2. Breast milk is easily digested by your baby

    Your breast milk is easily digested by your baby and is less likely to give him constipation or diarrhoea than infant formulas.

  3. Breast milk helps boost your baby’s immune system

    Your baby inherits your antibodies through breast milk as well as the antibodies offered through your colostrum. As such, your breast milk can boost your baby’s immune system and reduce his risk of infections such as:

    • Respiratory tract infections
    • Stomach flu (gastroenteritis)/diarrhoea
    • Studies show that children who are breastfed may also have reduced risk of obesity and diabetes, as well as lower blood pressure and total cholesterol later in life
  4. Breast feeding may protect against allergies

    Antibodies that are passed from breast milk to the babies helps to strengthen the baby’s immune system. Breast fed babies are exposed to fewer allergens like cow’s milk protein and soy protein. Chances of developing an allergy may be​ reduced due to a delay in exposing the child to allergens until the child is older and the immune system more mature.

  5. Breast milk may promote better mental and visual development in your baby

    Your breast milk may promote better mental development and intelligence in your baby. Studies have shown a relationship between an omega-3 fatty acid in breast milk called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and improved cognitive function. DHA is also necessary for eye health and improving vision in your baby. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) recommends eating about 8-12 ounces of fish or shellfish per week while breastfeeding to get the most benefits from omega-3 fatty acids.​​

  6. Breastfeeding provides warmth and security to your baby

    The close body contact during breastfeeding helps create a special bond between you and your baby. It also helps your baby feel safe.

  7. Breastfeeding improves jaw movement

    The sucking action is a complex movement of facial muscles and tongue that gives your baby’s jaw and facial muscles a good workout that helps to strengthen and improve their development.

Read on to understand how breastfeeding also benefits the mother​.

Ref: O17​