The numerous benefits of breastfeeding to baby and mother are well documented.
But amid all the alarm over skyrocketing rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes in British children, one crucial factor is never mentioned. And that’s the impact of bottle-feeding and the benefits of breastfeeding.
Studies have shown that baby’s feed on formula food have a 4 x greater risk of obesity in later life than those that are breastfed.
Although the fat content of breast milk and cow’s milk are similar that is as far as the similarity goes.
Breastmilk has much smaller droplets that are more readily digested by babies. The fats that it contains are virtually self-digesting because breastmilk also contains the enzyme lipase, which breaks down the fat.
The fats in breastmilk include important fatty acids such as omega-3 which is critical for proper development of brain and eye function.
The composition of cow’s milk is not appropriate for human babies it can be harmful in subtle or unexpected ways to the health of children and adults. It is designed for cows and the hormones it carries are designed to build big, strong bodies fast.
Babies breast fed on demand will drink as much as they need. Indeed, their intake is not controlled by how full their stomach is but by the brain, dependent on a baby’s nutritional need. The feed of bottle fed babies is measured by the carer and can be at the mercy of a loving carer trying to get baby to drink as much as possible and sometimes even increasing the ratio of formula milk to water.
By its very nature, the milk produced by cows is meant to grow a creature to the size of a young calf. And a young calf is a lot bigger than a young child. In every possible way, human infants do better when fed on human breast milk.
Here are just some of the advantages that breastfeeding has:
Obviously, there are many factors that lead to childhood obesity, and just because a child is bottle-fed it does not mean that he or she will end up unhealthy and overweight. But one of the many minor miracles of breastfeeding is that the mother’s milk supply adjusts automatically over time so that her body produces exactly as much milk as the baby actually needs. When the baby is no longer hungry, it stops sucking. This highly sensitive, self-regulating mechanism simply can’t operate when a child is given a bottle full of formula.
There is a window in life where having a baby is your focus. This involves commitment. Post birth it involves an incredible amount of dedication; can compromise your social life, means you don’t drink, smoke, do drugs or diet.
BUT children don’t ask to be born and we owe it to our children as mothers and fathers to give them the best possible start in life. A start that ensures major health benefits THROUGHOUT their lives, particularly in terms of obesity, general health, intelligence and contentment.
With all this said it is unfortunate that some women are not capable of breastfeeding but if we can encourage some of the others that can we would see these ‘unseen’ benefits unfold into a much healthier world.
Breast really is best.
For more information on the benefits of breastfeeding to baby and mother, visit From Little Acorns Academy.
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