Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, fat and everything the baby needs to grow. It's all provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula. Breast milk contains antibodies that help the baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers the baby's risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.
Breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood in some studies. What's more, the physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact all help your baby bond with you and feel secure. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow rather than become overweight children. Breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). It's been thought to lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers as well.