Breastmilk is well known to be the best food for infants, but did you know that there are many other benefits of breastfeeding for babies beyond just good nutrition?
It’s true. In fact, the benefits are not simply impressive — they’re truly miraculous.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for six months at least. After reading this list of how breastfeeding benefits babies, you’ll likely wonder why their recommendation isn’t longer than that.
Following is a seriously impressive list of the many ways that breastfeeding benefits baby — not only in infancy, but for years to come. And while this list is truly amazing, there are also many phenomenal breastfeeding benefits for mom as well.
Yes, breastfeeding isn’t always easy, but this will surely encourage any mom to do her best to nurse her baby as long as possible.
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25+ Benefits of Breastfeeding for Babies
Breastfeeding Literally Saves Babies’ Lives
It’s been estimated that if breastfeeding were happening at nearly universal levels, about 820,000 children’s lives would be saved every year. Enough said, right? (source)
Meets Child’s Emotional Needs
God made it so that a baby will want his mother. When baby is hurt, upset, etc., the little one wants mama. There are many studies showing babies need lots of touch. In my opinion, the best relief comes when the child is reconnected to his mother the way he was just after birth. Nursing. Mom is a real anchor for the child’s soul. (source)
Nourishment When Ill
When little ones are sick, they often don’t want to eat.
However, babies will typically want comfort from mom in the form of breastfeeding. Baby will come for comfort and the milk follows, giving baby nutrition and fluids, which can help baby get better faster. It also prevents dehydration in the case of a fever.
I remember being so thankful that I knew my babies were hydrated whenever they had a fever, thanks to them being breastfed.
Less Chance of Multiple Sclerosis
It appears that babies who were breastfed at least 4 months have less of a chance of getting MS than those were not. (source)
Recovers from Illness More Quickly
All babies can get ill, but according to Professor Peter Hartmann of the University of Western Australia, who is an internationally renowned expert on lactation and breastfeeding, “If a baby gets an illness, or his mother does, the protective components in her milk tend to increase,” and “A breastfed baby is likely to recover faster than a formula-fed baby because the mother’s body will produce specific antibodies against whatever infection he’s picked up.” (source)
There are other articles stating that the reason breastfed babies have a higher IQ is due to breastfeeding mothers having a higher IQ. However, this study made statistical adjustments for mother’s IQs and still showed a clear benefit for breastfed babies. (source).
Breastfeeding May Help Prevent Crohn’s Disease
It makes sense that providing baby with the ultimate nutrition early on would provide benefits to gut health that would prevent this illness. (source)
Helps Prevent Jaundice
Colostrum, the baby’s first milk, acts as a laxative and helps clear the infant’s intestines, therefore decreasing the chances of jaundice. (Source)
Helps Treat Jaundice
Since frequent stooling reduce bilirubin levels, frequent nursing is recommended for jaundiced babies. (Source)
Might Prevent Autism
Autism is growing exponentially, but according to this Japanese study, breastfeeding might protect baby from developing this. (cited here)
Prevents Infections from Formula
Breastmilk helps infants avoid infections since formula can easily be contaminated.
Breastmilk protects infants from infections since breastmilk contains antibodies against pathogens in the baby’s surroundings. (source)
Provides Superior Nutritional Benefits
Breastmilk is more than food — it is a combination of antibodies, enzymes, long-chain fatty acids and hormones, many of which cannot be included in the formula. (source)
Breastmilk Is Linked to Reduced Cases of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
SIDS is a truly horrifying situation that no parent wants to face. As it turns out, breastfeeding is linked to fewer cases. (source)
Breastmilk Prevents Urinary Tract Infections
Breastfed infants have fewer incidences of urinary tract infections than their non-breastfed counterparts. (source)
Breastfeeding Increases Fibronectin
Fibronectin is an important glycoprotein that has many beneficial functions in the human body. Breastfed babies may have more of this glycoprotein than non-breastfed babies. (source)
Breastfeeding Plays a Role in Proper Palate Development
Breastfeeding Might Prevent Near-sightedness
Though this isn’t completely verified, it seems that breastfeeding might prevent the development of near-sightedness. (source)
Breastfeeding encourages a healthy digestive system
Since breastmilk is more easily digested than manmade formulas, it encourages the development of a healthy digestive system.
Breastfeeding Might Reduce Pain
Whether breastfeeding reduces pain or has some other mechanism of action, this study shows that infants react with less distress during vaccinations when breastfed before and after (source).
Breastmilk Appears to Contribute to Heart Health
Breastfeeding also appears to contribute to benefits for baby’s heart. (source)
Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
While there might be additional reasons for this, the physical act of breastfeeding provides for optimal development of the dental arches, which in turn reduces the risk of obstructive sleep apnea developing later in life. (source)
Reduces HIV Transmission and Increases HIV-free Survival
Exclusive breastfeeding reduces the risk of HIV transmission and increases HIV-free survival (source)
Breastmilk Is Custom Nutrition
Formula doesn’t change, however, breastmilk continually changes to meet your child’s needs at every age (source)
Breastfed Children Show Greater Motor Activity
Compared with non-breastfed babies, breastfed babies show greater motor activity. (source)
Breastfeeding Associated with Enhanced Stereoscopic Vision
Stereoacuity is the ability to distinguish distance between two objects, and breastfeeding is associated with this enhanced stereoscopic vision at age 3.5 years. (source)
UNICEF and WHO (The World Health Organization) Recommended
Both of these organizations recommend breastfeeding to age two and beyond Though this “benefit” is more of a “because they said so” reason, the UNICEF statement is really fascinating, so I wanted to include it. (source)
As you can see, breastfeeding is for sure best for baby.
I’d love to hear — how long did you breastfeed your babies for and how long were you breastfed for?
Did you notice any patterns in your family to back up the information in this post?