The First Six Months
Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby, good nutrition and healthy habits begin at birth. Learn why the first six months are so important.
The First Six Months – Breastfeeding Benefits
When you choose to exclusively breastfeed your child for the first six months of life, you’re setting him or her up for success. According to the Surgeon General, breastfed babies:
Are better protected from illnesses such as diarrhea and ear infections
Are less likely to develop asthma
Are less likely to become obese
Are less at risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) (1)
Breastfed babies are also less likely to become picky eaters since breast milk changes flavor depending on what you eat. (2) Your infant will experience a variety of tastes and flavors — another reason you want to continue eating a balanced diet after your baby is born.
Better Bottle Feeding Habits
If for some reason you are not able to breastfeed your child, you can still adopt healthy habits to give your child the best possible start. When bottle feeding either breast milk or formula:
Don’t force infants to finish a bottle. Pay close attention to when they are showing signs of being satisfied.
Never put them to bed with a bottle. Not only can that cause overeating, but it can also lead to cavities even before their teeth have not grown in yet. (3)
Don’t give infants juice in a bottle at all.
Don’t add infant cereal to their bottles. As long as you are feeding them “on demand”, the breast milk or formula they are eating is enough.
(1) The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding 2011
(2) Shim JE, Kim J, Mathai RA; J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Sep;111(9):1363-8. Associations of infant feeding practices and picky eating behaviors of preschool children.
(3) American Dental Association: http://www.ada.org/3034.aspx
Top of the page