The act of breastfeeding establishes a hormonal bond. You and your baby both release oxytocin – the hormone responsible for love and bonding – while breastfeeding.
But children who had been breastfed were significantly less anxious than their peers who had not been breastfed. Breastfed children were almost twice as likely to be highly anxious, while children who had been bottle fed were over 9 times as likely to be highly anxious about parental divorce/separation.
There are lots of reasons why a breastfed baby might sometimes seem unhappy or fussy such as being hungry, having allergies, sensory processing issues or lactose overload and more.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization also recommend exclusive breastfeeding for about the first 6 months, with continued breastfeeding along with introducing appropriate complementary foods for up to 2 years of age or longer.
In addition, breastfeeding has been associated with improved mother-infant bonding [6,7]. For instance, early feeding interactions between mother and infant may result in more positive feeding experiences and produce greater maternal sensitivity and responsiveness to infant needs .
As the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) states, “There is no evidence that extended breastfeeding is harmful to parent or child.”
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 [PDF-30.6MB] recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding while introducing appropriate complementary foods for 1 year or longer.
Baby-led breastfeeding attachment
This is called 'baby-led attachment', and it's when you let your baby follow their instincts to find your breast and attach. Ideally, baby-led attachment can start straight after your baby is born, when you're having skin-to-skin contact with your baby.
That's because between 4 and 7 months babies begin to realize that people and objects exist even when they can't see them. This is called object permanence. For example, if you leave the room your baby will know that you've gone away.
Studies have shown that breast milk from distressed mothers may contain higher levels of cortisol. As your stress level rises, the level of cortisol in your breast milk also increases. When your baby nurses, they may consume some of this extra cortisol.
They don't understand the concept of time, so they don't know mom will come back, and can become upset by her absence. Whether mom is in the kitchen, in the next bedroom, or at the office, it's all the same to the baby, who might cry until mom is nearby again.
Babies often prefer their primary caregiver
Most babies naturally prefer the parent who's their primary caregiver, the person they count on to meet their most basic and essential needs. This is especially true after 6 months when separation anxiety starts to set in.
According to studies, breastfeeding is the most powerful form of interaction between the mother and the infant. Due to the physical closeness, the baby is more close to the mother than to anyone else in the family. As per a few studies, breastfed mothers are closer to their babies as compared to bottle-fed mothers.
Newborn babies do not begin to prefer mother, father or anyone at first. In fact, it usually takes infants until they're about 2 or 3 months old before they start to show a strong preference for mother, father or anyone. While a baby is primed for social interaction soon after birth, its abilities are pretty limited.
In Mongolia, breastfeeding is celebrated and public breastfeeding encouraged with 65 percent of babies being exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Breastfeeding also tends to continue until after the second birthday.
3 to 4 Months. During the first few months, feeding times gradually get shorter and the time between feedings gets a little longer. By the time a baby is 3 to 4 months old, they should be breastfeeding well, gaining weight, and growing.
Even if your toddler eats three meals a day, your milk provides valuable nutrients. Fewer health risks for mothers. As a mother, you benefit, too. Breastfeeding for 12 or more months lowers your risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
Breastfeeding can help protect babies against some short- and long-term illnesses and diseases. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breastfed babies are also less likely to have ear infections and stomach bugs.
It's not just because they're cute! Science says maternal biology drives mothers to kiss their babies as a way to protect their new immune system! Parents often describe themselves as “totally smitten” with their new little one.
WHO recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child's first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, they should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.