Infant feeding (breastfeeding)
In this article, we will review scientific and universal facts about breastfeeding, which is the first and most important step in the child’s life that affects him negatively or positively through the steps that parents take in this field (nutrition),1
and therefore every mother and father must be aware And enough knowledge on this topic, which we will talk about briefly in this article
during feeding infants, we have to make sure that they get enough calories and nutrients. These include proteins, fats, minerals, and vitamins, as proper nutrition for infants contributes to reducing their risk of disease,
and is necessary for their healthy growth and development during the first two years of their life, in addition to that helps to start adopting proper nutritional habits at an early age in children On developing a healthy diet in their lives.
- Every infant and child has the right to good nutrition according to the “Convention on the Rights of the Child”.
- Undernutrition is associated with 45% of child deaths.
- Globally in 2019, 144 million children under 5 were estimated to be stunted (too short for age), 47 million were estimated to be wasted (too thin for height), and 38.3 million were overweight or obese.
- About 44% of infants 0–6 months old are exclusively breastfed.
- Few children receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods; in many countries less than a fourth of infants 6–23 months of age meet the criteria of dietary diversity and feeding frequency that are appropriate for their age.
- Over 820 000 children’s lives could be saved every year among children under 5 years, if all children 0–23 months were optimally breastfed. Breastfeeding improves IQ, school attendance, and is associated with higher income in adult life. (1)
- Improving child development and reducing health costs through breastfeeding results in economic gains for individual families as well as at the national level.
Undernutrition is estimated to be associated with 2.7 million child deaths annually or 45% of all child deaths. Infant and young child feeding is a key area to improve child survival and promote healthy growth and development.
The first 2 years of a child’s life are particularly important, as optimal nutrition during this period lowers morbidity and mortality, reduces the risk of chronic disease, and fosters better development overall.
Optimal breastfeeding is so critical that it could save the lives of over 820 000 children under the age of 5 years each year.
- early initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth;
- exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life; and
- introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.
Breastfeeding is an unequaled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers.
As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development, and health.
1 Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production.
- skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby immediately after birth and initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life.
- breastfeeding on demand (that is, as often as the child wants, day and night).
- not giving babies additional food or drink, even water, unless medically necessary.
- Ensure that the baby is receiving effective breastfeeding with the following steps :
- The first step is to hold the baby in the breast. Wait until your baby opens its mouth well and then help him until he applies his mouth to your breast.
- The aura of the nipple should be in the baby’s mouth.
- Squeeze the areola to get the milk out.
- If you feel it is not working, use your finger to stop the sucking motion and do it again.
- Each breastfeeding session lasts between 20 and 45 minutes every 3 hours.
- Check whether the baby is consuming enough milk by monitoring the period of breastfeeding, on which side of the breast, and then count the wet diapers.
In conclusion of this article, I would like to highlight some important facts about breastfeeding
- for the first six months is crucial.
- breastfeeding protects infants from childhood illnesses.
- breastfeeding also benefits mothers.
- breastfeeding has long-term benefits for children.
- infant formula does not contain the antibodies found in breast milk.
- transmission of HIV through breastfeeding can be reduced with drugs.
- mothers should continue breastfeeding at work.
- solid foods should be phased in at six months.
Finally, we must realize the importance of nutrition for children and the seriousness of this matter by meeting their basic needs according to scientific and practical foundations, away from the customs and traditions that could harm them.