We all are aware of certain benefits of breast milk for babies in general. However, our knowledge with respect to those benefits has always been limited. So, in reality, how does breastfeeding impact a baby’s life? What exactly does a baby gain out of it? Do the good effects of breastfeeding really go beyond a certain number of years, say adulthood? To answer these very questions, here are a few fascinating truths about breastfed babies (some of them proved by science):
1. They Have A Better IQ
A few years back, the results of a massive study about breastfeeding and its effects on human IQ made headlines for all the right reasons (1). The study was carried out between 1996 to 2005 and focused on nearly 13,889 breastfeeding infants, who were followed up to an age of 6-7 years. The results of this large study provided a strong evidence that babies who were breastfed had improved levels of IQ (cognitive skills) compared to those who weren’t.
2. They Are Less Obese
Another study conducted regarding the effects of breast milk on child weight proved that breastfeeding can have a protective effect against childhood obesity (2). Obesity has increasingly become a major health concern nowadays. Therefore, the news that breastfed babies tend to be less obese as they grow is heartening.
3. Babies Can Smell Mother’s Milk
Another fascinating fact about babies who breastfeed is that they can recognize their mother’s breast milk odor quite distinctly (3). Although, in general, infants do have a sensitive sense of smell, only those who are breastfed can easily recognize the difference between the smell of their mother’s milk with that of formula or another woman’s breast milk.
4. Have A Longer Life Expectancy
Aging and health in human beings are generally associated with the length of the telomeres. These telomeres protect the DNA from damage and infectious infiltration. The longer the telomere, the healthier and longer the person lives. A study now claims that babies who were exclusively breastfed for at least 4 – 6 weeks after birth demonstrated longer telomeres in the long run (4). Another ‘yay’ for breastfeeding!
5. Calmer With Fewer Behavior Issues
Many new mothers vouch for the fact that they actively bond with their babies while breastfeeding. This active bonding results in less behavioral issues among children (5). Along with the emotional bonding, the smell of the mother’s milk has a calming effect on the baby (6). Sometimes, it even provides them with pain relief.
6. Save Their Parents’ Money
This one is a given, of course. When parents do not have to spend money on those expensive formula tins, it’ll definitely save them a chunk of money. Because breast milk is, duh, free!
7. They Have A Low Risk Of Allergies
Newborns have a sensitive skin and delicate immunity system, which is why they are at a high risk of contracting allergies. However, exclusive breastfeeding for at least 4 months has been found to reduce this risk considerably (7). So, babies who breastfeed are generally at low risk of getting allergies.
8. Have Better Immunity
Breast milk contains IgA antibodies and other factors like bactericidal lactoferrin, which protects the newborn babies from infections (8). What is interesting is that this enhanced protection remains for years against a range of infections and diseases like respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, ear infections, etc.
9. Prevent Unplanned Pregnancy
When a new mother breastfeeds, she generally does not ovulate. So, that is definitely a good news for parents. Because they can now indulge in some lovemaking after a long wait without the added stress of an unplanned pregnancy. All thanks to their baby who’s breastfeeding!
10. Have Lower Risk Of SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is one nightmare that every new parent dreads. While the exact cause for SIDS is still being researched, studies suggest that exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first month reduced the risk of SIDS by 50% (9). This means 50% of breastfed babies were saved from the risk of SIDS probably because of breastfeeding.
We are sure that these truths of breastfed babies have been really surprising, and fascinating, for all of you. Now you know that breastfed babies survived some serious life-threatening conditions, saved you money, as well as brought in that much-needed sunshine into your love life with your better halves! So, let us raise a cute little toast to them. Cheers!