Recommendations and Benefits
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans [PDF-30.6MB] recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months, and then continuing breastfeeding while introducing appropriate complementary foods until your child is 12 months old or older. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization also recommend exclusive breastfeeding for about the first 6 months, with continued breastfeeding along with introducing appropriate complementary foods for up to 2 years of age or longer.
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 infants.
Benefits to Mother
Mothers who breastfeed their babies have a lower risk of:
- Breast cancer.
- Ovarian cancer.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure.