Breast milk is the natural food for babies. Canadian health experts recommend:
- Babies need only breast milk (breastmilk) for the first 6 months
- At 6 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 2 years and beyond.
- All babies need Vitamin D. If breastfeeding, Health Canada recommends you give your baby 400 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. Be sure to speak with your healthcare professional, a public health nurse, or midwife to help you make an informed decision.