Breast milk is the natural food for newborns
It contains everything your baby needs. No question, no debate, no doubt. The Public Health Agency of Canada, the Dietitians of Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society and the College of Family Physicians of Canada agree:
- Babies need only breastmilk for the first 6 months.
- Around 6 months, babies begin to eat solid foods and continue to breastfeed for up to 2 years and beyond.
- Start solid foods that are nutritious, especially foods that are high in iron.
Breastfeeding is natural and babies are born to breastfeed. During the early days after birth, some babies and mothers need time to learn and get it right. What other people say or believe may affect the success of breastfeeding. Families, friends and partners can help new mothers give their babies the best start in life by supporting them in their choice to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding matters, because breastfeeding has been shown to:
- decrease the risk of ear, chest and stomach infections
- prevent diarrhea
- decreases the risk of digestive diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and colitis
- decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- decreases the risk of obesity
- promotes proper jaw and tooth development
- promotes healthy brain development
When problems arise with breastfeeding (for example, blocked milk ducts or latching issues), there are many community supports that are available such as midwives, family doctors, breastfeeding support networks, public health departments and the La Leche League Canada.
Supporting a woman’s right to breastfeed anywhere at anytime is also critical to creating an environment of acceptance of breastfeeding. Creating and enforcing policies that protect those rights as well as supporting the World Health Organization’s Baby Friendly Initiative are other ways that organizations and individuals can encourage women to successfully breastfeed their babies.
Health Nexus resources
The Baby-Friendly Initiative: Evidence-Informed Key Messages and Resources
Breastfeeding for the Health and Future of Our Nation
Mixing Alcohol and Breastfeeding - printer-ready handouts
Breastfeeding Online course
Breastfeeding Matters (PDF)
The fact sheets complement the Breastfeeding Matters booklet in special situations. They can be downloaded when needed. The following fact sheets are available.
Breastfeeding and Alcohol Use (PDF)
- Infant Feeding Action Committee
- La Leche League Canada
- Public Health Agency of Canada (Division Childhood and Adolescence)
- Motherisk (The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto)
- Baby friendly Initiative Ontario