The benefits of breastfeeding after 6 months
How important is breastfeeding after six months? And how long should it last? The answers to these questions may surprise you, because the additional benefits of breast milk for the health and development of the baby, which solid foods or other milk cannot provide, are often underestimated.
How long should I breastfeed?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for up to two years or more. This applies not only to developing countries, but also to families around the world.
“It is important to note that WHO does not set a maximum duration for breastfeeding,” says Dr. Leon Mitoulas, head of the research department for breastfeeding at Medela, “From anthropological point of view, breastfeeding from two and a half to seven years is optimal. However, according to modern cultural standards, weaning occurs much earlier. ”
WHO recommendations are supported by recent studies of the first thousand days of a child’s life – from conception to two years. Dr. Mithulas explains: “Scientists have found that during this period, proper nutrition, along with other factors, has the most significant effect on the growth and health of the child in the future. All the evidence proves that breastfeeding provides exceptional benefits for the baby in this crucial 1000-day period of life. ”
“Breastfeeding can be simultaneously considered as food, medicine and a way of interconnection,” he adds, “And these three benefits will undoubtedly remain after two years.”
Nutrition: Benefits of Prolonged Breastfeeding
When a baby at the age of about six months begins to consume solid foods, it may seem that breast milk is only an addition to it. In fact, the opposite is true. At first, the child will receive from solid food only a small part of the calories and nutrients he needs.
“There is no doubt that feeding exclusively with breast milk is the best way for children to eat in the first six months. But even after complementary foods are added to the baby’s diet, breast milk will still be an important source of nutrients, ”says Dr. Mithulas.
With exclusive breastfeeding, an average child consumes between 750 and 800 ml of milk per day. At the age of 9 to 12 months, he will need about 500 ml of breast milk per day, which is about half his daily calorie intake. By 18 months, he is likely to consume about 200 ml per day, which will be approximately 29% of calories.
Indeed, after six months, the baby needs other nutrients that it can not get from breast milk or from its own reserves. This is iron, zinc, vitamins B and D.1,7. However, even in the second year of life, breast milk will be for him a source of a large number of other important substances. As Dr. Mithulas explains:
“During this period, breast milk provides the baby with protein requirements of 43%, vitamin C by 60%, vitamin A by 75%, folate by 76% and vitamin B12 by 94%.”
Medication: Health Benefits of Breastfeeding After Six Months
It has been proven that breastfeeding after six months reduces the likelihood of childhood and adult diseases, and in case of illness helps the baby recover faster. The longer breastfeeding lasts, the longer its protective properties are preserved.
“Breastfeeding protects the baby from infections and illnesses so effectively that it is even considered a kind of“ personal medicine ”, the benefit of which can last a lifetime,” says Dr. Mithulas.
“For example, it was found that breastfeeding after
six months helps protect the child from certain types of childhood cancer, in particular against acute lymphoblastic leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, 9 reduces the likelihood of developing type 1 and type 2 diabetes, 10 problems with vision11 and teeth, 12 and the risk of obesity. ”
Your breast milk can also reduce your baby’s risk of nausea and diarrhea, 14 gastroenteritis, colds and flu, stomatitis, otitis media, lung and throat infections. 9,15 This is especially important when the baby grows up and starts talking to other children or goes to the baby. a garden where germs are abundant.
Breastfeeding can even save lives, as Dr. Mithulas notes: “Lack of breastfeeding between six and 23 months can have dire consequences. In low- and middle-income countries, babies who do not get breast milk are twice as likely to die from infections as babies who are breast-fed at least partially. ”
In addition, breastfeeding is valuable not only in terms of the beneficial properties of milk, but also as a great way to calm a baby. Nothing comforts an upset baby like breastfeeding. As a child grows up, breastfeeding will help in everything from teething and vaccinations to scratches, bruises and viruses, which can not be done.