Breastfeeding provides young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. The WHO and UNICEF recommend:
- Early initiation of breastfeeding with one hour of birth – Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by the WHO as the perfect food for the newborn
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life
- The introduction of appropriate complementary (solid) foods at six months, combined with continued breastfeeding, for up to two years of age or beyond.
Benefits of optimal breastfeeding:
- Protection against gastrointestinal infections
- Reduces infant mortality
- An important source of energy and nutrients in all children aged 6 to 23 months.
- Also a critical source of energy and nutrients during illness
- Reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer in mothers
Helps to space pregnancies–exclusive breastfeeding of babies under six months has a hormonal effect that often causes a lack of menstruation.