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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 Erin Paris, registered dietitian and lactation consultant at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  She explains the benefits of breast-feeding for babies.

“They’ve shown that babies are less likely to have gastro-intestinal illnesses, upper respiratory infections, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart disease and then the I.Q.s that they have actually been studied in babies improved as they get older.”

Paris says breast-feeding also has important benefits for mother.  It decreases her risk for ovarian and breast cancer as well as the risk for developing osteoporosis.  It also results in a faster return to pre-pregnancy weight.  She explains breast feeding recommendations.

“The basic standards are four to six months of exclusive breastfeeding.  Then at four months of age, some pediatricians do recommend that you can introduce some table foods such as, you know, rice cereals or baby cereals. Then continuing through that first year of life is recommended until the baby has tripled their weight.”

New mothers can learn more about breast-feeding by talking with their family physician or obstetrician.  Most hospitals have a lactation counselor or offer breast feeding classes to help new mothers.

Ruth Slottag