There aren't too many surprises in the American Academy of Pediatrics latest policy statement on Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk, which states that 'human milk is uniquely superior for infant feeding.'
The AAP still recommends that 'breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.'
They did go a step further this time though, in saying that 'there is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.' That is good news for mothers who want to breastfeed their toddlers.
Not surprisingly, the new policy statement tries to emphasize that there are 'compelling advantages for infants, mothers, families, and society from breastfeeding, ' including 'health, nutrional, immunologic, developmental, psychologic, social, economic, and enviornmental benefits.'
Other recommendations of this policy statement that will be helpful for parents include that:
- healthy infants should be given an opportunity to have direct skin-to-skin contact with their mother and breastfeed as soon as possible after they are born.
- infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life, which means no formula, water, juice, or cereal.
- pacifiers should be avoided until after breastfeeding is well established.
- newborn should breastfeed 8 to 12 times a day when a baby shows the first signs of hunger, such as 'increased alertness, physical activity, mouthing, or rooting,' and not just when they are crying, a late sign of hunger.
- all breastfeeding babies should have a visit with their Pediatrician at 3-5 days of age and then again when they are 2-3 weeks old.
- all breastfeeding infant should receive Vitamin D drops beginning during the first 2 months of life
- a mother and her baby should sleep close to each other to facilitate breastfeeding
- all health professionals should 'promote, support, and protect breastfeeding enthusiastically.'
Hopefully, this new policy statement will help us to move closer to the Healthy People 2010 Goals for breastfeeding, which include that at least 75% of mothers will start breastfeeding, 50% will still be breastfeeding when their baby is six months old, and 25% will still be breastfeeding at 12 months.