Breast milk is the natural food for babies. Canadian health experts recommend:
- Babies need only breast milk for the first six months.
- At six months, babies will show signs that they are ready for solid foods. It is important to watch for these cues, introduce solids when ready, and continue to breastfeed for up to two years and beyond.
- All babies need Vitamin D. If breastfeeding, Health Canada recommends you give your baby 400 international units (IU) of Vitamin D each day from birth to one year of age.
It is important to understand all the facts before making a decision on how to feed your baby. This information can help you make an informed decision and be on your way to give your baby a healthy start:
Breastfeeding matters because:
- Everyone benefits from breastfeeding – you, your baby, your family and your community
- Breast milk is convenient, always the right temperature and available anytime
- Breastfeeding is free
- Breastfeeding promotes bonding between you and your baby
- Breastfeeding is environmentally friendly
- Breastfeeding reduces health care costs for your family and society.
For your baby, breastfeeding:
- Protects your baby from many infections and illnesses
- Builds healthy eating habits
- Promotes proper jaw development
- Promotes healthy brain development.
For mom, breastfeeding:
- Controls postpartum bleeding
- Decreases rates of breast and ovarian cancers
- Slows down the return of your period.
Introducing any amount of formula can seriously affect your ability to breastfeed successfully. It is difficult to return to exclusive breastfeeding once formula feeding has started. Your milk supply is reduced when you give formula to your baby. Be aware: formula companies will do their best to promote and make their product available to you in an effort to get your business. Please talk to your health care provider if you are considering giving your baby infant formula.
For baby, not breastfeeding increases your risk of:
- Infections such as ear, chest and bladder
- Upsets of the stomach and gut, causing diarrhea or later bowel problems
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Obesity and chronic diseases later in life
- Some childhood cancers.
For mom, not breastfeeding increases your risk of:
- Postpartum bleeding
- Type Two Diabetes
- Postpartum depression
Challenges with infant formula include:
- Does not change to meet your baby’s growing needs
- Is not sterile (powdered form)
- Extra time is needed to sterilize equipment for bottle feeding
- Mistakes can be made during preparation
- It is costly to purchase formula
- Safe water sources for infant formula preparation.
If you have made an informed decision to feed your baby infant formula and need more information, the Baby-Friendly Initiative Strategy Ontario created the booklet Infant Formula: What You Need to Know to provide support to new parents.
If you have any questions about feeding your baby, call Health Line to speak with a Public Health Nurse at 519-271-7600 or 1-877-271-7348 extension 267, Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.