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.
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.
How you feed your baby will be one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. Feeding your baby infant formula (formula feeding) has risks. The Baby-Friendly Initiative Strategy Ontario created the booklet Infant Formula: What You Need to Know to provide support to new parents.
My Breastfeeding Plan
- The resource My Breastfeeding Plan lists the key action steps that will help you and your baby get the best possible start to breastfeeding.
- It helps your health care providers and family understand what you want to happen in the first few hours and days of your baby’s life to contribute to your breastfeeding success!
- Complete the plan with:
- Your doctor or midwife
- Your partner, family, or support person
- The hospital staff, pre-admit clinic nurse
- Do not forget to take your My Breastfeeding Plan to the hospital.
- Ask the staff to attach your plan to your chart while you’re still in labour so they will be aware of what you want.
- The plan will make sure that all the members of your maternity team are up to speed about your preferences.
Getting Started with Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is natural, but it can take time to learn. For the topics listed below, the Best Start: Breastfeeding Matters booklet provides additional information.
- Positions and latching
- Feeding cues and hunger cues
- Expressing breast milk (There are some instances when you need to hand express milk or may need to use a breast pump. Speak with a Public Health Nurse about your options.)
- Storage and handling guidelines
- Signs breastfeeding is going well
- Calming a fussy baby
- Best Start: Blocked Ducts
- Trillium Health Partners Video: Breastfeeding after a Caesarean Birth
- Breastfeeding in an Emergency
- Breast Infection (Mastitis)
- Best Start: Thrush
- Many breastfed babies never use a pacifier, please refer to the booklet from Best Start: Breastfeeding Matters. For risks associated with pacifier use and choking please see Choking Prevention in Children.
For more information
If you have any questions about feeding your baby, call Health Line to speak with a Public Health Nurse at 519-271-7600 extension 267 or 1-877-271-7348, Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
- Best Start – Breastfeeding Your Early Preterm Baby
- Best Start – Breastfeeding Your Late Preterm Baby
- i-breastfeed.ca (local breastfeeding campaign)
- Dental Health and Children: Preventing Early Childhood Tooth Decay
- Dr. Jack Newman breastfeeding support (includes videos)
- La Leche League of Canada
- The Ontario Human Rights Commission – Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
If you require any documents in an alternative format, please let us know. Call Health Line at 519-271-7600 or toll-free 1-877-271-7348 extension 267.