I am so grateful I was able to contribute to my child’s early childhood development by breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months and continuing that for the first year. The amount of benefits that are reaped are amazing and to think that only about half of the infants born in the United States are being breastfed at 6 months of age is mind boggling to me.
The benefits of exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months have numerous benefits in early childhood development that are lifelong*:
- Breastfeeding an infant provides them with the best source of nutrition at the start of their life as well as that bond creating comfort, love and security with the mother.
- Not only is there the nurturing and nutritional aspect but there are the benefits of them thriving through childhood and adolescence with higher IQ scores and school attainment.
- Breastfed babies are sick less often and have a lower risk of obesity, which can lead to many other health conditions.
- Breastfed babies also have lower risk of other conditions, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, childhood leukemia, and more.
Without my employer's support, I wouldn’t have been able to exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months and continue on until he was 12 months. They made accommodations for me to privately express milk when he was not with me. These simple accommodations in the workplace can assist in reaping the many benefits in early childhood development, as well as having happier employees who want to come back to work after having a child. Add to that parents are calling out sick less often because their child is staying healthy and you have a win-win-win!
Teresa Salama is a Health Policy Analyst who supports the Healthy Arizona Worksites Program. For more information on becoming recognized as a Healthy Arizona Worksite, contact Teresa at 602-359-4565.
Office of Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2014, July 21). "Why Breastfeeding Is Important." Retrieved from site
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development. "What Are The Benefits of Breastfeeding?" Retrieved from site
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