7 Reasons Why Breastfeeding is Best for Babies

Posted on April 11th, 2010 by Dr. Mercola  |  16 Comments »

Breastfeeding has become more widely accepted over the years, but it’s still a contentious, polarizing, and provocative issue. The social stigma of breastfeeding in public remains, and health experts still disagree on how long a mother needs to breastfeed her child.

But what no longer needs further debate is the fact that breast milk is healthier than infant formula, says Dr. Joseph Mercola. Breast milk contains at least 400 nutrients which are not found in infant formula. Dr. Mercola gives mothers 7 reasons why breastfeeding is best for babies:

  1. Breastfeeding boosts your baby’s immune system
    Studies show that babies who have been breastfed exclusively have better functioning immune systems and have added protection against allergies, asthma, Crohn’s disease, eczema, heart disease, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, lymphoma, respiratory infections, and Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Breast milk contains antibodies and gives an infant immunity to illnesses that the mother is immune to. Also, if a baby is exposed to a germ, he/she will transfer it back to the mother while nursing. The mother’s body will then manufacture antibodies to that particular germ and transfer them back to the baby at the next feeding, Dr. Mercola explains.
  2. Breastfeeding is good for your baby’s brain
    Breastfed babies tend to have higher IQs than babies fed with infant formula. An 18-year study of over 1,000 children showed that kids who were breastfed achieved more academically than kids who were formula-fed as babies. Interestingly, breastfed babies spend more time in what is called the “quiet alert” state, which is most conducive for learning, Dr. Mercola points out.
  3. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of obesity
    Breast milk contains high levels of adiponectin, a protein which affects how the body processes fat. Low levels of adiponectin have been associated with coronary artery disease, insulin resistance, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. The risk of obesity appears to be lowered the longer a child is breastfed.
  4. Breastfeeding helps babies develop emotionally
    Babies need to be held. The physical act of nursing is one of the most comforting things for a newborn. Leaving a baby alone with a bottle does not make him/her feel safe or secure. Breastfeeding also stimulates the release of the hormone, oxytocin, which facilitates maternal behavior and bonding between mothers and their newborns.
  5. Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of cancer and other diseases
    Breastfeeding women were shown to have a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers and osteoporosis later in life.
  6. Breastfeeding helps mothers lose weight faster
    Mothers who breastfeed return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster. A woman needs about 500 calories daily to produce milk and breastfeed – the equivalent of a 5-mile jog. Breastfeeding also stimulates contractions in the uterus that help it go back to its normal, pre-pregnancy size faster and reduce lower body fat.
  7. Breastfeeding helps save time and money
    Mothers don’t have to prepare bottles and infant formula because breast milk is always fresh and ready to go. The economy has been tough and mothers can save some money because they don’t need to buy infant formula. Breastfed babies also tend to require fewer visits to the doctor and therefore, decreased medical expenses.

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Responses to “7 Reasons Why Breastfeeding is Best for Babies”

  1. Heather Hardin says on :

    I love this! I have a baby who is almost 8 months old and has been breastfed since birth. My daughter was until she was 6 months old. They are both so happy and healthy.

  2. JFC says on :

    Dr. Mercola, what is your recommendation on how long to breastfeed? Also, how early can home-made pureed food be introduced?

  3. sandy says on :

    I am feeding number 3 who is 15mths and I still love it! I am not ashamed to feed anywhere and think more woman need to feed in public so that children who don’t get to see it at home get to see it somewhere and don’t grow up thinking it is strange! Breast is best…feed your baby in public today!!

  4. Cres Pua Guieb says on :

    After giving birth to 5, and with a duration of about 3 months i was given moringana vegetable soup with chicken to support lactation and they all excelled in their academic performance.
    Today I have a tree and still growing some.

  5. Tanya says on :

    I breast fed both my children and was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36!

  6. Freehold Chiropractor says on :

    Thanks for sharing more great information. It’s so important that doctors of all specialties share the health aspects of natural means.
    I constantly educate my patients on the importance of breastfeeding… the health benefits and on the opposite side the risks of not breastfeeding.

  7. Tweets that mention 7 Reasons Why Breastfeeding is Best for Babies | Doctor Mercola -- Topsy.com says on :

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Leticia Jiménez and Leticia Jiménez, Embrace Health. Embrace Health said: 7 Reasons Why Breastfeeding Is Best For Babies: #breastfeeding (via @mercola)

  8. Melanie says on :

    If we think of breastfeeding as the norm (which it should be), we could change the wording of your points to read:
    1. Artificial fed babies have weakened immune systems.
    2. Artificial fed babies are not as smart.
    3. Artificial feeding increases the risk of obesity.
    4. Artificial fed babies may be at a disadvantage for emotional development.
    5. Not breastfeeding increases the mothers risks of breast cancer…
    6. Artificial feeding causes mothers to lose weight slower.
    7. Artificial feeding is expensive.

    Maybe if mothers to be understood the negative aspects of formula feeding, they might try harder to breastfeed.

  9. Sara says on :

    Tanya – The length of breastfeeding plays a role in aiding the prevention of breast cancer, but certainly isn’t the iron clad protection against the disease, unfortunately. I do wish more women knew the information about breastfeeding and cancer prevention. Not being exposed to the hormones of monthly ovulation cycle is the key factor, I am pretty sure. Breastfeeding, when not interfered by schedules, etc, will usually delay ovulation in women for an extended period (not always, but typically).

    Child led weaning for a child that is nursed on cue without pacifiers and bottles is rarely weaned by the one year old mark. I nursed my one daughter until two years old, but I was trying to wean her. She probably would have nursed longer. I am still nursing my 15 month old and she is exclusively breastfed, not many solids at all.

    Thanks for posting, Dr. Mercola!

  10. Kelly Cevallos says on :

    I have breastfed all three of my children. My youngest being 2 years old. I still nurse my 4.5 year old during bedtime because she still has a “need” and I think this is the time to meet those needs. I literally allow her to nurse until the count of twenty…. and then she is off and sleeping peacefully. At times, when the children were sick, I pumped out breastmilk for my five year old who still sometimes asks for it. Remember, the AVERAGE age to wean is about 5 which means around the world, breastfeeding is a normal and long commitment and doesnt end abruptly because all of a sudden the child can ask for food. At a certain age, the main focus stops being NUTRITION and takes on more of a comfort safety thing for them. My children were attached to me, not a doll, pacifier or other inanimate object. I would have it no other way!

    And yeah, there are rarely sick…. and we cosleep, I sleep all night long and nurse at the same time. Loving life breastfeeding….I could go on and on… but ill stop now :)

  11. Jamie says on :

    Women don’t need health experts stating how long they should breastfeed, If mom is in tune with her babies needs then she will know without a doubt how long to feed that precious little life. Breastfeeding is one of the most wonderful things a woman can experience and I truly hope each new mom will be encouraged by the people around her to choose the best for her baby.

  12. smily says on :

    What if u can’t breast feed. Does that mean mine kids are going to be stuiped?.

  13. maria says on :

    Is your protein powder safe to take when breastfeeding?

    — I know a lot of the powders have some bad chemicals so should they be avoided when breastfeeding?

  14. Kawi gurl says on :

    Great site! much appreciated.

  15. Riz Lee says on :

    such a nice article, having valued information regards

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