We recommend that women breastfeed their babies for six months before adding other liquids and foods. Breastfeeding is a personal choice but there are many benefits for both mother and baby.
As well as being good for the baby, breastfeeding can also reduce the mother’s risk of breast cancer by:
- Helping them to lose any excess baby weight more quickly
- Lowering the levels of some cancer-related hormones in their body
- Getting rid of any cells in the breasts that may have DNA damage
What are the benefits for baby?
Breast milk is the best start for babies as it contains all the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. It also helps protect them from infection and disease. Breastfed babies are less likely to become overweight or obese later in life compared to babies fed on infant formula. Babies who maintain a healthy weight as they grow up have a reduced risk of developing cancer in the future.
If women are able to, they should aim to give only breast milk for the first six months of their baby’s life. After that, baby will benefit from continued breastfeeding alongside introducing other foods and water.
Even if a woman can’t do this, any breastfeeding is beneficial for them and their baby – the longer they breastfeed, the longer the protection and benefits last.