Breastfeeding is associated with good cognitive and motor development in children. Breastfeeding is associated also with long-term effects on the baby’s and mother’s health. Breastfeeding benefits for the child extend into adulthood. Breast milk is recommended as the primary nutrition for both full-term and premature babies. The composition of breast milk varies depending on the infant’s and toddler’s age and needs with changing component ratio to meet the child’s needs.
Breastfeeding experience of each baby in a family is unique. Access to advice, support and encouragement is important at any breastfeeding stage. In addition to mother and child health clinics, advice can be asked from any competent breastfeeding professional, any other professional or peer who understands the mother’s experience.
- Breastmilk contains nutrients and various other components that promote the infant’s and toddler’s normal development and health.
- The nutrients in breast milk are in the right proportion and easy to digest safeguarding normal development of the child’s body.
- Breastfeeding has no health risks, hence the mother and child can schedule lactation according to their preferences and to suit their family best.
- Breastfeeding protects the child against infections and supports normal development of the child’s body in many different ways.
- During breastfeeding the baby or toddler practices, among other things, interaction, skills for making and maintaining contact and skills to control his or her needs and balance energy levels.
- When preparing for breastfeeding, the maternity clinic personnel play a crucial, supportive and guiding role; guidance will continue at the hospital and after the delivery, at the child health clinic.
- Various breastfeeding positions are worth a try and the mother should pick the ones that work best for her and add least strain to the body.
- Solid foods can be started as tiny portions depending on the child, between 4 and 6 months of age.
At the latest by 6 months of age, all children should be given solid foods.
In other words, there is no reason, why a baby could not be exclusively breastfed until 6 months old – breast milk contains sufficient nutrients for a full-term and normal weight baby for the first six months.
Sufficiency of a child’s nutrition intake is monitored at child health clinic by weight and height charts.