Why and How Long to Breastfeed
Mothers who breastfeed:
• Are less likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer
• Are less likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes
• Bond with their babies easier
• Have less risk of postpartum depression
• May lose their pregnancy weight faster
• Feel great that they are giving their babies the healthiest start in life
Breastfed babies have:
• Better immunity
• Fewer infections, including ear infections
• Fewer allergies
• Less diarrhea
• Less risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
• Less trips to the hospital for serious illnesses
Human milk is designed for human babies. It’s easy to digest, and changes as your baby grows to meet your baby’s specific needs. It offers the best nutrition for every stage of growth.
Children who were breastfed have:
• Less risk of becoming overweight
• Less risk of some chronic diseases that develop during childhood including:
- Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
- Childhood Cancers
- Crohn’s disease
• Lower health care costs
• Good jaw development that promotes the growth of straight, healthy teeth
How Long to Breastfeed
Based on years of research, these organizations strongly recommend breastfeeding be continued for 1 year or longer:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (PDF, 107KB) recommends breastfeeding for at least 1 year or longer to achieve optimal maternal and child health.
- The Healthy People 2020 Objectives also recommend sustaining breastfeeding throughout the infant’s first year.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding (PDF, 124KB) recommends that breastfeeding be continued for up to two years of age or beyond.
Many families breastfeed because they know it is healthier; however, some families who breastfeed stop too soon because of a variety of barriers.
Every family has the right to decide how their baby will be fed, and they deserve accurate information to make that decision. Breastfeeding helps a child maximize his or her health and physical potential, and offers lifelong benefits for the breastfeeding mother and child.