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Autism Speaks

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How Long to Breast Feed Your Baby

Nursing is the most precious gift you can give your baby if you are able to nurse, even if you are only able to do it a short time.  Here are the facts.

Nurse for a few days:  he will have received your Colostrum, or early milk. Packed with nutrition and antibodies, it helps get your baby’s digestive system gives him his first “immunization”.  It helps your body get back into shape also.

Nurse for 4 to 6 weeks:  you will ease him through the most critical part of infancy. Breastfed newborns are rarely sick and have few digestive problems. It takes 4 to 6 weeks to establish your milk supply and a good nursing relationship. Your body will recover naturally from childbirth. Remember – nursing mothers usually lose weight more easily! As an added bonus, prolactin, the “mothering hormone” that is produced every time you nurse, will help you and your baby form a special bond.

Nurse for 3 to 4 months:  baby’s digestive system will have matured a great deal, and he will be much better able to tolerate the foreign substances in commercial formulas. If there is a family history of allergies, though, you will greatly reduce his risk by waiting a few more months before adding anything at all to his diet. Your baby will also learn to “taste” new foods from your own milk.  This may be beneficial for a “less picky eater” later on.  In addition, giving nothing but your milk for the first 4 months gives strong protection against ear infections for a whole year.

Nurse for 6 months:  you will supply all your baby’s nutritional needs for the first half year of his life. At this point, he may be ready to try some other foods. Nursing continues to ensure good health by providing antibodies to all the bacteria and viruses to which you or your baby are exposed. One study indicates that continued nursing reduces the risk of both childhood and some adult cancers. Remember, he still “tastes” the foods you eat.

Nurse for 9 months: , you will have seen him through the fastest and most important brain and body development of his life on the food that was designed for him – your milk. Nursing for at least this long will help ensure better performance all through his school years. Weaning may be easy at this age… but then, so is nursing! If you want to avoid weaning this early, be sure you have been available to nurse for comfort as well as for food.

Nurse for One year: you will have saved enough money to buy a major appliance! Your baby is now ready to try a whole range of new foods. This year of nursing has given your child many health benefits that will last his whole life. He will have a stronger immune system, for example, and is less likely to need orthodontia work.

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