Recommendations and Benefits
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breastfeeding alert icon for about 6 months, and then continuing breastfeeding while introducing complementary foods alert icon until your child is 12 months old or older. This provides your child with ideal nutrition and supports growth and development. You can read the full recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatricsexternal icon or the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans pdf icon[PDF-30.6MB]external icon.
Vitamins & Minerals
Breastfed babies need additional vitamin D and may need additional iron. Although breast milk is an excellent source of the nutrition your baby needs, he or she will need to get extra vitamin D (beginning at birth) and possibly iron from supplements. Learn more at Vitamins & Minerals.
Breastfeeding is good for both you and your baby. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most babies. As your baby grows, your breast milk will change to meet his or her nutritional needs. Breastfeeding can also help protect you and your baby against some short- and long-term illnesses and diseases.
Benefits to Baby
Babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of:
- Type 1 diabetes.
- Severe lower respiratory disease.
- Acute otitis media (ear infections).
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Gastrointestinal infections (diarrhea/vomiting).
- Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) for preterm infantsexternal icon.
Benefits to Mother
Mothers who breastfeed their babies have a lower risk of:
- Breast cancer.
- Ovarian cancer.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure.