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Breastfeeding

 Baby breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the normal – and best – way to feed an infant. Experts recommend that a baby is exclusively breastfed until about 6 months – that means no other milks, food or drinks.

At around 6 months, it is fine to begin offering solid foods, while continuing with breastfeeding until baby is 12 months or older. Breastfeeding provides health benefits for babies well into their second year of life and beyond. The longer a baby is breastfed the greater the benefit.

If you and your family are undecided about breastfeeding, a good idea is to try for a few weeks. You can also talk about your concerns with your health professional or call the Australian Breastfeeding Association counsellor on 02 8853 4999 or the Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 2 686 (1800 MUM 2 MUM).

Benefits for your baby

Breastmilk:

  • provides all your baby’s nutritional needs for the first six months
  • protects your baby from infections
  • is more easily digested compared with other milks
  • Skin-to-skin contact during breastfeeds promotes bonding
  • Lower risk of becoming overweight or diabetic later in life
  • Higher IQ scores and better jaw development

Benefits for mother

  • Minimises bleeding after birth and helps the uterus return to normal
  • Aids a faster return to pre-pregnancy body weight
  • Delays the return of fertility
  • Reduces the risk of certain cancers
  • May lead to stronger bones

Benefits for the family

  • A healthier baby means fewer trips to the doctor and less need for medicines
  • Breastfeeding is cheap compared to formula feeding
  • Breastfeeding is safe and convenient