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Breastfeeding: A Vital Source of Growth

Breastfeeding: A Vital Source of Growth

Ever pondered on why breastfeeding is extremely essential for every newborn? Here's all you need to understand right from the start point of breastfeeding to each of its benefits that are still not known to many.

‘Feeding smart right from start’ is vital in the overall growth and brain development of a newborn baby. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for 6 months as it has many benefits for the infant and mother. Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth protects the newborns from acquiring infections and reduces infant mortality. According to WHO, over 8,20,000 children’s lives could be saved every year among children under 5 years, if all children 0-23 months were optimally breastfed.

Benefits of Breastfeeding
Colostrum is the first milk produced in the early stage of breastfeeding. It is rich in immunoglobulins and protects the baby from infection. It is also rich in macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals and has Lactoferrin and other growth factors. Breastfeeding improves the IQ and overall development of the child. It also reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer in the mother while helping to space pregnancies through natural birth control (Lactation amenorrhea).

Supplements after 6 Months
When the baby reaches 6 months of age, the need for energy and nutrients start to exceed from what is provided by breast milk and complementary foods are to be supplemented to meet those needs. Nutrient dense food has be introduced at 6 months with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond. Food should be prepared hygienically. Start supplementary feeding at six months with small amount of food with gradual increase in size as child gets older. While feeding, one should have patience. Encourage child to eat, feeding should be done in small frequent manner. Slow transition of diet from liquid to pureed form should be followed.

Include Variety
While preparing food for toddlers include more variety in the diet. It is a time to experiment with new tastes and textures, thus encourage them to eating the rainbow- vegetables and fruits of all colours, this will increase the intake of different nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating healthy is a strong pillar for leading a healthy life thus it should be taught right from the start at a young age.

In adolescence, focus more on having balanced diet plan consisting of three main meals and healthy snacks with an addition of oral fluids in plenty. Salt intake should be limited. The USDA Myplate method can be followed as it emphasizes on adequate intake of grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein. In addition to this, nuts and seeds can be included. Regular physical activity  along with a healthy diet promote healthy growth and development, reducing the risk of overweight and obesity.