New parents always want to give their babies the very best. When it comes to nutrition, the best first food for babies is breast milk.
Breast-fed babies are healthier and have fewer infections than formula-fed babies, says Becky Antonacci, registered dietitian and lactation consultant at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield. She explains the benefits of breast-feeding for babies.
SOUND BITE: “They experience decreased risk of infection including respiratory infections, G.I. infections, and ear infections. And there’s also some evidence that breast feeding may decrease the incidences of obesity and type 1 and type 2 diabetes in these infants as they grow older.”
Antonacci says breast-feeding also has important benefits for mother. It decreases their risk for ovarian and breast cancer as well as for developing osteoporosis. It also results in a faster return to pre-pregnancy weight. She offers this advice for feeding babies.
SOUND BITE: “ . . . babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life. And that helps prevent those risk for infections and diarrhea. Beyond that iron-rich food should be introduced at six months of life. As long as breast feeding is mutually desired by mother and baby, it should be continued after that.”
A new mother can learn more about breast-feeding and breast-feeding accommodations in the workplace by talking with her family physician or obstetrician as well as with her employer. Information also is available on the national web site, www.womenshealth.gov.
This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.