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Feeding your baby

Breastmilk gives your baby all the nutrients he or she needs for around the first six months of life (and it’s important beyond six months, too)

Breastfeeding has a huge range of benefits. It has a deep impact on your baby’s survival, health, nutrition and development. 

  • Breast milk provides all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals your baby needs for growth for the first six months
  • No other liquids or food are needed
  • Breast milk carries antibodies from you that help protect your baby from infection and disease
  • The act of breastfeeding itself stimulates proper growth of your baby's mouth and jaw
  • Breastfeeding creates a special bond between you and your baby
  • The interaction between you and him/her during breastfeeding has positive repercussions for life, in terms of stimulation, behaviour, speech, sense of wellbeing and security, and how your child relates to other people
  • Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of chronic conditions later in life, such as obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, childhood asthma and childhood leukaemias
  • Studies have shown that breastfed babies perform better in intelligence and behaviour tests into adulthood than formula-fed babies
  • ​Breastfeeding also reduces your chances of getting type 2 diabetes and breast, uterine and ovarian cancer

Virtually every mother can breastfeed, if given the right support, advice and encouragement, as well as practical help to resolve any problems.

Formula milk, at its best, can only replace most of the nutritional components of breast milk. It is just a food, whereas breast milk is a complex living nutritional fluid containing anti-bodies, enzymes, long chain fatty acids and hormones, many of which simply cannot be included in formula.  

Babies who are not breastfed have an increased chance of:

  • Diarrhoea and vomiting and having to go to hospital as a result
  • Chest infections and having to go to hospital as a result
  • Ear infections
  • Being fussy about new foods
  • Being constipated
  • Being obese, which means they are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and other illnesses later in life
  • Developing eczema

NCT  feeding helpline 

0300 330 0700 option 1, staffed by NCT Breastfeeding Counsellors and open 8:00 - 00:00 every day of the year.

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