January 11, 2015

9 Reasons Your Baby Wants to Be Breastfed

It is not easy being a child in today’s world. A child today will have to withstand infections and teething as a small and helpless infant, defy constant exposure to germs as a toddler in kindergarten, and ward off pesky viruses from all over the world that sometimes threaten our essential existence. This child will turn into a teenager that will strive to be a minority among the generation of obesity. This teenager will have to arm its body against the all too common diabetes and cardiovascular diseases as an adult and hopefully just hopefully reach the elderly years in a decent shape after the bombardment of physical and mental stresses in life.

I know that as a parent you will fight tooth and nail to take care of your baby in every single instance, especially in the early days when your baby is too weak to fight alone. What if I told you instead of fighting a disease, you can nurture a child that is less likely to contract the disease? Big statement, I know. But, it is true. The infancy time frame is an essential period to equip your child for his entire life and the time to equip will never come back again. It is like having only one chance to arm your soldiers for a long and strenuous war.

You probably thinking I’m exaggerating, war and buildings and a bunch of shenanigans. Are breastfeeding benefits really that mind blowing? They are.

To illustrate the benefits, I will run you through documented research that shows the difference in health outcomes between breastfed vs. non breastfed babies.

1.Breastfed babies receive the right nutrition for all their needs

  • Breast milk is specifically tailored to provide every necessary nutrient that the baby needs at each stage, it provides the exact amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat needed for the body.

Why don't formula companies just put the same ingredients as breastmilk?
Formula companies will try to add the an ingredient such as protein in the same amount as in breast milk. What happens though is that is messes up the percentages of the other ingredients. The same way adding 1 table spoon of black pepper can taste great in one dish, but totally ruin another dish. You will have to add all sorts of other ingredients to tame the spiciness. It simply does not compare to breastmilk in terms of constituents

    • The lovely thing about breast milk is that it provides this super food in a very tasty form. In fact it is one of the sweetest tasting milk among other mammals.
    • Unlike most other sweet tasting foods such as candies, breast milk is easily digestible. Most of it is mainly made up of whey, which is the more nutritious and digestible part of milk. Unlike cow’s milk which is mainly made up of casein, which is harder to digest. In addition, to aid with digestion, breast milk contains enzymes such as lipase which helps break down the food.
Why is this important?
You might think “Who cares, my baby will digest it anyway”. However, it IS important because 95% of breast milk is used in the baby’s body vs 83-85% of formula used in the baby’s body. This means a large chunk of formula is not digested well and the residuals can cause either spit up or stomach upset and constipation
    • It also does a very unique and essential thing. It changes constituents to best suit your baby throughout all stages. How?
How does it change constituents?

2. Breastfed babies have less infections and diseases in the short term

Breast milk is medicine! You can call it an antibiotic. Actually, that’s not fair because antibiotics only fight bacteria, it is also anti-viral, anti-parasitic, and anti-fungal. It is an anti-microbial! It literally provides the body with the tools to fight any sort of pathogen. It contains antibodies that help protect newborns from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia(strong flu), stomach problems (gastroenteritis), urinary tract infections, ear infections, atopic eczema, and respiratory problem (Ketan, 2005). If you are seasoned parent, you probably already know how these diseases can be a nightmare to your child and to you as well! It’s bad enough getting a baby to sleep even without diseases! To top it off, it is also a prebiotic, it spreads the stomach with positive bacteria and prevents the growth of harmful bacteria and viruses (Coppa, 2004).

Breastfeeding

That’s only in regards to pneumonia and diarrhea. There are many other dangerous infections that breastfeeding protects from. #march4nutrition

Breast milk also strengthens the baby's immunity
A note about breastfeeding and immunity
Imagine a mother contracts the flu. As her body produces antibodies to fight the flu, those same antibodies get transferred to the baby to fight off the flu as well, just as an adult! This not only protects the baby, but teaches the baby’s body to fight infections. In addition, very recent studies have found that if the baby is sick or picks up germs (from the 10000 nasty things babies put in their mouths), the saliva from the baby’s mouth while breastfeeding signals messages to the mother’s body to provide the baby with the new proper equipment to fight off the disease. Next feeding: brand new antibodies especially suited for the situation. No need for meds. Mind-blowing

3. Breastfed babies have better long term health outcomes

“Beyond the immediate benefits for children, breastfeeding contributes to a lifetime of good health” – WHO 10 facts about breastfeeding fact number 4

The long term health benefits of breastfeeding have now been established. To help you see the benefits I will outline some research that has looked at the differences between adults who have been breastfed and adults who have not been breastfed. The results were consistent.

  • Breastfed adolescent and adults are less likely to be over weight or obese. This is fact number 4 in WHO’s 10 facts about breastfeeding. You might ask yourself how can this be? Some research has shown that breastfed babies turn into adolescents and adults that have different dietary habits, they eat better and control their appetite better. In addition, even their bodies react to food differently because they have different levels of hormones than the non-breastfed adults. For example, breastfed adults have higher levels of leptin, the hormone responsible for feeling full, and other growth factors, which are responsible for regulation of food intake and better food break down!
  • Breastfed adults are less likely to have type-2 diabetes. Loads of research suggest breast milk reduces the risks of long term diseases as well such as diabetes mellitus types 1 and 2.
  • Breastfed adults are less likely to have osteoporosis, asthma, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease (Kramer, 2010).

Note: As scientists and physicians today work very hard to try and combat non communicable diseases such as obesity. They are now looking to tackle such an ever branching epidemics from its roots. All the way from inception till 2 years of age.

 

4.Breastfed babies feel less pain through rough patches

The skin to skin contact between mother and baby and pain relieving properties found in breast milk provide pain relief to the baby. In fact, breastfeeding is recommended by WHO during medical interventions and procedures done on infants since it effectively reduces the response to pain in newborn infants (Carbajal, 2003).

Take that, and apply it to the baby who is teething or has colic or stomach pain. This is part of the reason breastfed babies are reported to cry less often and pass through the teething phases more breezily, or as breezily as possible: p

5.Breastfed babies have higher IQ

Aside from diseases and pain. As a parent I am sure you strive to provide your kids with a stimulating and supportive environment in order for them to be intelligent and successful individuals in life. Don’t say no. We all want our kids to be smart. Well, you can have a sweet ally that will help you in your endeavor.

The high levels of nutrients such as omega 3 and DHA in breast milk seem to have a positive influence on intelligence. There has been several studies that have shown that breastfed infants have significantly higher levels of cognitive function versus formula fed babies. The most recent of which has re-confirmed the relationship between breastfeeding and IQ, as it found that breastfed babies score better on receptive language at age 3 and at verbal and nonverbal IQ at age 7 (Belfort MB, 2013). Pretty cool, no?

Even though some formulas now supplement with DHA and ARA, it is still not known whether or not this has the same effect on intelligence, or whether they are absorbed and utilized the same way or not.

Note
It is worth noting that studies suggest that the close contact between the mother and child may be part of breastfeeding’s positive impact on IQ. So it’s good to keep in mind that whether you breastfeed or not, close and loving contact with your baby stimulates their brain.

6.Breastfed babies have better teeth, speech patterns, and jaw development

Breastfeeding develops the baby’s jaw more fully in a way that bottle feeding does not. The jaw developed through the different mechanism of sucking on a bottle or pacifier is narrower and is more likely to restrict nose breathing. Research has shown that a child who breastfeeds for less than a year is more like to need orthopedic attention later in life (Viggiano D, 2004).

Honestly, I can vouch for this, I was barely breastfed and my brother didn’t breastfeed at all and we had teeth that were nothing short of a disaster. We both had ridiculous braces on for most of our teenage years. While my sister who was exclusively breastfed for 8 months had perfect teeth!

7.Breastfed babies receive a safe drink that is the perfect temperature

Breast milk is safe as it comes out from the breast with no risk of bacterial contamination as would be through formula or inadequate bottle sanitation. The temperature of breast milk is the ideal and preferred temperature by the baby, with no need for extra heating equipment.

Breastfeeding

There are hundreds of recalls of formula per year that dangerous and sometimes deathly. With breastfeeding you can rest assured that you are providing your baby with a safe food source

8. Breastfed babies are better eaters

It’s true, breast milk contains more flavors passed through the mom’s diet than does the standard formula drink. This gets the baby used to different flavors and makes it much easier to start solid food because the baby is already acquainted with the flavors. Trust me, you do not want a picky eater at home!

9. And most importantly, breastfed babies receive constant soothing and bonding bursts

Nothing soothes a baby more than the frequent tender physical contact with the mother through breastfeeding. Lots of times Karim will go on an endless rant of crying, whether he’s hungry, sad, lonely, overstimulated or in a new environment. Whatever it is, I breastfeed him for a bit and off he goes. He is totally fine again. I think it’s probably the oxytocin that relaxes the baby and calms him down. Whatever it is, physiological or not, he loves it and it is a life saver for me. I am sure many many moms will vouch for that too.

One small note that you might want to think about especially if you have a spirited child like mine :). He is very active and barely sits still, and is not the hugging type. The only time we have quiet and peaceful bonding time is while he is breastfeeding. I don’t know if we would get the same bonding if he was not breastfeeding.

breastfeeding benefits

    To conclude I just want to ask you one question, when they split the groups between breastfed and non-breastfed babies, which group do you think your baby will want to be in?

 

If you thought the benefits for the baby are cool, wait until you hear the benefits of breastfeeding for the mom!

A note as a scientist
References
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