Benefits for Baby
From birth, your breast milk meets the nutritional needs of your baby: it’s a true gift from nature that helps your infant to grow.
Nutrition Evolves as Babies Grow
Breast milk evolves as babies grow. The first few days, breast milk looks like a yellow- fluid, thick and viscous: this is the colostrum protein concentrate, containing vitamins, minerals and antibodies. Then, after five days, breast milk becomes more fluid: the “transitional” milk, now rich in sugars and fats.
"Mature" breast milk starts from around the 15th day, and continues to evolve over many months in tandem with your baby’s growth. Breast milk is also perfectly suited to your child’s immature digestive system, providing a balance of different proteins.
Supporting Health From The Start
It has been shown that children who are breastfed are less prone to bacterial infections and classic childhood diseases such as ear infections, nasopharyngitis and gastroenteritis. They also develop fewer allergies. This protection also plays a role in the longer term. Studies have shown that breastfed babies are less likely to suffer later from diabetes, obesity, allergies and heart disease. By nursing your baby, you give him the best chance for good health throughout his life.*
The Secret To This Protection
Your milk provides antibodies to your baby that he needs and he cannot make on his own. Antibodies are proteins produced by the body when exposed for the first time to a virus or bacteria. When this virus or bacteria attacks again, the antibodies are ready to rapidly neutralize it. Up till a little over six months of age, these maternal antibodies protect your baby against many diseases. Then, gradually, your child’s immune system develops to take over.
With your breast milk, you also give your baby good bacteria: lactic acid bacteria such as bifidobacteria.
Awakening The Taste Buds
In nursing your baby, you are also providing various flavors to your baby that he would not otherwise be exposed. Depending on what you eat, the taste of your milk changes.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids cannot be manufactured by the body, so we must ingest them through food and pass them on through breast milk. They play an important role in the formation of tissues, the construction of the brain and nervous system, and the regulation of cholesterol.
How Long to Breastfeed?
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life. Partial and exclusive breastfeeding for a shorter period are also beneficial to your child’s wellbeing, as is prolonged breastfeeding after introduction of solid foods between the 17th and the 26th week.
* World Health Organization.
Learn more about breastfeeding benefits on Gerber.com