There is only one food that provides our newborns with all the nutrients and benefits their growing bodies require. That food is mother’s milk.
Experts in nutrition and infant health recommend that a baby be exclusively breast fed for at least the first six months of life and for good reason. Aside from the close bond it creates between a mother and infant, properties in breast milk help to prevent many diseases and is best for a baby’s all round development.
For breastfeeding to be successful, registered dietician Anne Birks says it’s important that a baby is fed when hungry, rather than when a schedule dictates. “In the first few weeks it’s very important that a child be fed on demand which could mean as often as every hour in the first week or two. As the baby gets a little older and the mother’s milk supply is in, then the baby can go maybe 2 or 3 hours. Scheduling doesn’t work with a breast fed baby. You feed them when they are hungry and that establishes the milk supply.”
You may have been led to believe that an evening bottle of formula helps a baby sleep through the night. But Birks says this isn’t so, and in fact can do more harm than good for a breast fed baby. “If a bottle is given then that is really the beginning of a weaning process. Right away the mother’s milk will diminish because she’s not giving the baby her own milk.” Birks adds that “some people like to introduce the occasional bottle just to get a break. The odd bottle of formula is acceptable and convenient, but to do it on a regular basis establishes a pattern that will effect the whole supply and demand of breast milk.”
Many new mothers have difficulty with establishing breastfeeding. In this case, mothers should contact their doctor, the public health nurse or the local chapter of organizations like the La Leche League. Usually all it takes is a little extra help and encouragement to ensure that your baby enjoys the full benefits of mother’s milk.
Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.