Breastfeeding is important

Newborn being held by mother

Breastfeeding is important for children, parents, families, and communities.

  • Human milk is the first traditional food and nourishes children with essential nutrients and other factors tailored to their unique needs
  • Feeding at the breast helps keep children’s and parents’ immune systems strong
  • It helps build a strong emotional bond/attachment between children and their parents
  • Breastfeeding reduces health care costs for families and society

Learn more about why breastfeeding is important: 10 great reasons to breastfeed your baby – Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Breastfeeding recommendations

Northern Health supports the following recommendations:

  • Within the first hour after birth, hold babies skin-to-skin and support them to start breastfeeding.
    Learn more: Helping your baby get a good start: Skin-to-skin (PDF) – Breastfeeding Matters, Best Start by Health Nexus
  • For about the first six months of life, give babies only human milk. They do not need other foods or drinks (not even water) unless there is a medical reason
  • Give a liquid vitamin D supplement to all babies and children who receive human milk.
    Learn more: Vitamin D for breastfed infants and toddlers in Northern BC (PDF) – Northern Health
  • Introduce solid foods at about six months of age, when babies show that they are ready.
    Learn more: Before you feed your baby solid foods (PDF) – Northern Health
  • Continue to breastfeed children for up to two years and beyond, for as long as families wish

Risks of not breastfeeding

Northern Health recognizes that many things affect families’ infant feeding decisions. To make informed decisions about infant feeding, families should have access to unbiased information about the risks of not breastfeeding. These include the:

  • Health impacts for child and parent
  • Financial cost for family
  • Safety of infant formula
  • Difficulty to reverse decision once breastfeeding is stopped

Learn more about the risks of not breastfeeding (PDF) – Breastfeeding Matters, Best Start by Health Nexus

For families feeding with infant formula, please see Nutrition in the first year NH public webpage for more information.


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