Breastfeeding and a Baby’s Brain Development

It’s a proven fact breastfeeding produces better brain development than formula or a combination of both. While breastmilk provides key elements for a baby’s health, it extends far beyond the basic nutrition. Breastmilk provides vital components that produce a balanced brain, which is needed during the first few years of your baby’s development.

Today we are going to discuss how breastfeeding helps develop your baby’s brain:

 

During the first years of your baby’s life, their brain develops quite rapidly. Their brains are mostly shaped around their experiences and observations. The close connection a baby shares with their mother while breastfeeding is one of these experiences that build a sense of emotion. Because breastmilk is digested faster, a baby is more likely to interact with their mother, and the skin-to-skin contact creates a special responsive bonding experience. Breastfeeding provides lifelong benefits in adolescents and adults as well. Babies who are exclusively breastfeed for 3 to 6 months often times have a better grasp on their emotions later in life due to these experiences.

Beyond physical and emotional connections, breastfeeding contains key nutrients for better brain development, such as DHA, Cholesterol, and Lactose. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is a fundamental nutrient for growth and maintenance of brain tissue. Babies who are breastfeed have been known to show higher levels of DHA. As strange as it sounds to some, Cholesterol is another crucial element needed for brain development. Fats are needed for ideal brain development because they provide the right substances for producing myelin, the fatty shield that protects nerve fibers so they can safely carry information to different parts of the brain. Sugars are also significant nutrients needed for your baby’s brain development. The sugar, Lactose, is present in breastmilk, and after it enters the body it breaks into simple sugars: glucose and galactose. Galactose is needed for brain tissue development.

Breastmilk has also been linked to cases where children have higher IQ’s than others who are formula feed. Babies who are exclusively breastfeed for 3 months have been known to develop better cognitive aftermaths because larger parts of their brains are developed, such as parts related to language, emotional function, and cognition.

 

While providing lifelong benefits, breastmilk will offer the best vitamins and minerals for an overall healthy brain. Talk to your pediatrician and lactation consultant to learn more about all the benefits breastmilk can offer you and your baby, and checkout this Friday’s post where we will discuss how breastmilk develops strong tummies!