Breastfeeding Protects Your Baby

Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. A mother's milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula.

As a result, breastfed infants grow exactly the way they should. They tend to gain less unnecessary weight and to be leaner. This may result in being less overweight later in life.

Premature babies do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.

Breastfed babies score slightly higher on IQ tests, especially babies who were born prematurely.

Breast milk fights disease; the cells, hormones and antibodies in breast milk protect babies from illness. This protection is unique because formula cannot match the chemical makeup of human breast milk. Among formula-fed babies, ear infections and diarrhea are more common. Formula-fed babies also have higher risk of lower respiratory infections, asthma, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Babies who are not breastfed are sick more often and have more doctor visits.

Also, when you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. Unlike human milk straight from the breast, infant formula has a chance of being contaminated.

Benefits for Mom

Nursing uses up extra calories, making it easier to lose "baby weight". It also helps the uterus to revert to its original size and lessens any bleeding a woman may have after giving birth.

Breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding (no supplementing with formula), delays the return of normal ovulation and menstrual birth control choices.

Breastfeeding makes your life easier. It saves time and money. You do not have to purchase, measure, and mix formula. There are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night!

A mother can give her baby immediate satisfaction by providing her breast milk when her baby is hungry.

Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time for herself and her baby.

Breastfeeding can help a mother to bond with her baby. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm and comforted.

Breastfeeding can be good for mom's health, too. Mothers who breastfeed their babies have a lower risk of developing postpartum depression, type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer, and possibly of hip fractures and osteoporosis after menopause.

Articles and Information

A Well-Kept Secret — Breastfeeding's Benefits to Mothers  — This publication provides information on the benefits of breastfeeding for the baby and the mother. It includes information on physiologic effects and long-term benefits.  (Copyright © La Leche League International) 

Breastfeeding  — This website briefly describes the benefits of breastfeeding and what to do if you have trouble breastfeeding, and it links to information from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development about breastfeeding. 

Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding  — This publication discusses the benefits of breastfeeding and the pros and cons of bottle-feeding, as well as answering common breastfeeding questions.  (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) 

Can Breastfeeding Prevent Illnesses?   — This publication explains how breastfeeding can prevent some illnesses in your baby.  (Copyright © La Leche League International)

Does Breastfeeding Reduce the Risk of Pediatric Overweight?  — Did you know that breastfeeding your child can reduce the chances that he or she will be overweight? This booklet explains the research behind this discovery and answers some of the questions you may have about the benefits of breastfeeding. (Copyright  © Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Feeding Your Newborn   — This publication offers information on breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. It covers the advantages of breastfeeding, limitations of both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, and possible challenges you may encounter. (Copyright © Nemours Foundation)

What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding my Baby?   — This publication discusses the benefits of breastfeeding, including the benefits for the baby, the mother, employers, and the environment. (Copyright © La Leche League International)

What are the Benefits of Breastfeeding my Toddler?   — This publication describes how breastfeeding your toddler can help his or her ability to mature and understand discipline, as well as provide protection from illness and allergies. (Copyright © La Leche League International)

What's in Breast Milk?   — Proteins, fats, and vitamins are some of the substances that make up breast milk. This publication describes the composition of breast milk and what makes it the best source of nutrition for your baby.  (Copyright © American Pregnancy Association)

Your Guide to Breastfeeding  — A great resource from womenshealth.gov available to view, download, or print. (Copyright  © womenshealth.gov)

Connect with other Organizations

American Academy of Pediatrics 

KellyMom 

La Leche League International 

National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health, MCHB, HRSA, HHS 

National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition 

National Women's Health Center, OWH, HHS

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, (WIC) USDA

United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC)

World Alliance For Breastfeeding Action