Breastfeeding Fact Sheets

Janis Hunter
Home & Garden Information Center

A mom-to-be has to decide whether to breastfeed her baby, give them iron-fortified infant formula, or supplement her breast milk with infant formula. Breastfeeding has several advantages for baby and mother.

Advantages to Baby:

  • It provides sugars, fats, protein and vitamins in an easily digestible form that is just right for baby.
  • It is a natural defense against allergies, asthma, eczema and infections and may help protect against becoming sick. Breastfed babies have five times fewer gastrointestinal illnesses, three times fewer respiratory illnesses, and half as many ear infections as formula-fed infants.
  • It gives more self-control over when and how much is eaten and leads to normal weight gain, which may decrease the risk for obesity later in life.

Advantages to Mother:

  • It develops an emotional closeness between mother and baby and gives the mother self-confidence in her ability to care for the baby.
  • It develops an emotional closeness between mother and baby and gives the mother self-confidence in her ability to care for the baby.
  • It makes life easier and saves money and time. There is no infant formula to buy and measure or bottles to clean. Mom can rest every few hours while the baby is fed.
  • It uses up the mother’s extra calories and may help her lose those pounds gained during pregnancy, especially if she breastfeeds exclusively for more than three months.
  • It appears to improve long-term health, including a lower risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis.

Regular cow’s milk doesn’t offer a baby the same nutritional advantages that human milk or infant formula does. A baby should not be given whole milk until they are at least one year old.

While a woman is pregnant and breastfeeding, her baby eats what she eats. So that both of them stay healthy, mom should eat nutritious foods from MyPyramid, USDA’s food guidance system. The Home & Garden Information Center has two fact sheets to help in choosing the right foods and making better decisions for the health of mother and baby: HGIC 4101, Breast Milk or Infant Formula? and HGIC 4118, Pregnancy & Breastfeeding. For additional information, go to the website and click on “MyPyramid Plan for Moms.”

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