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5 reasons why breastfeeding is best

You’ve heard it over and over—breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby. But is it really that much better? Yes, indeed, says the American Academy of Pediatrics, which urges new moms to breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months of life and to continue nursing at least until baby’s first birthday. Breastfeeding offers crucial health benefits you can’t get elsewhere. Still not convinced? Consider these five top reasons to breastfeed your baby:

  1. Breastfeeding offers superior nutrition. With just the right amount of protein, sugar, fat and water, breast milk offers a naturally complete food that your baby digests easily. Human milk also contains important enzymes, amino acids and antibodies, components that formula can’t duplicate.
  2. Breastfeeding means fewer illnesses. The antibodies found in breast milk help protect babies from bacteria and viruses and can mean fewer trips to the doctor. Breastfed babies are less likely to suffer ear infections, allergies, diarrhea, vomiting, meningitis, pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses and possibly sudden infant death syndrome.
  3. Breastfeeding helps response to immunizations. Breastfed babies’ immune systems have a better response to their immunizations against polio, tetanus, diphtheria, Haemophilus influenzae (a common cause of meningitis and pneumonia) and respiratory syncytial virus infection.
  4. Breastfeeding combats obesity. It may be hard to imagine your little one as fat or unhealthy someday, but nearly one in three school-age kids are already overweight or obese and at risk for early heart disease and diabetes. Breastfeeding allows a baby to feed according to his or her own needs and appetite. Bottle-fed babies are more likely to be overfed.
  5. Breastfeeding saves work, time and money. Without all those bottles and nipples to wash and sterilize or formula to prepare, refrigerate and warm, you could use those extra hours each day to catch up on your sleep. What’s more, formula is expensive.