The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, and then continuing breastfeeding while introducing complementary foods until your child is 12 months old or older.
“Breastfeeding is an important public health issue because it promotes health, prevents disease and helps contribute to reducing health inequalities. Breast milk provides all the nutrients a baby needs for healthy growth and development for the first six months of life” (CDC, 2021).
In addition to being a critical source of nutrition to the infant, research shows that breastfeeding is not simply a meal at the breast but also has significant and far-reaching effects on cognition, behavior, and mental health in children and mothers Krol & Grossman, 2018). The recent World Health Organization reviews of the short- and long-term benefits of breastfeeding concluded that there was strong evidence for many public health benefits of breastfeeding. Cognitive development is improved by breastfeeding, and infants who are breastfed and mothers who breastfeed have lower rates of obesity. Other chronic diseases that are reduced by breastfeeding include diabetes (both type 1 and type 2), obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, hyperlipidemia, and some types of cancer (Binns et al., 2016).
Bottle feeding is another means for parents to use if they are unable or do not want to breastfeed. There is a lot less information for parents that wish to bottle feed and there needs to be support provided for these parents as well. Bottle feeding with formula is one way to fight against obesity in children. Formula feeding practices, and infant feeding in general, occurs within a family and a cultural society with expected norms and values. In many countries, including Australia, the expected norm is to breastfeed. This focus on breastfeeding has meant formula feeding is often viewed as the â€˜second bestâ€™ option. On the other hand, within certain demographic and cultural groups, breastfeeding may not be the expected norm. Nevertheless, some parents using formula have reported feeling judged because of their choice to use formula. These values and norms can influence the type of advice parents receive Appleton et al., 2018).
Appleton, J., Laws, R., Russell, C. G., Fowler, C., Campbell, K. J., & Denney-Wilson, E. (2018). Infant formula feeding practices and the role of advice and support: an exploratory qualitative study.
Binns, C., Lee, M., & Low, W. Y. (2016). The Long-Term Public Health Benefits of Breastfeeding. Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, 28(1), 7â€“14.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, August 10).
What CDC is doing
. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved July 9, 2022, from
Krol, K. M., & Grossmann, T. (2018). Psychological effects of breastfeeding on children and mothers. Psychologische Effekte des Stillens auf Kinder und MÃ¼tter.
Bundesgesundheitsblatt, Gesundheitsforschung, Gesundheitsschutz