Most experts agree that exclusively breastfeeding for a newborn's first six months of life is best for babies (and their mothers). After all, it's perfectly portioned for your baby's nutritional needs, contains antibodies that boost a baby's immunity, is easier to digest than formula, and - unlike all the other stuff you need to raise a kid - it's free 🙌 .
Although existing research suggests breastfed babies also end up smarter, breast milk's brain-boosting benefits may wear off by the time those children turn 5, according to a new study recently published in the journal, Pediatrics. When researchers asked the parents of 7,478 Irish babies to assess their kid's vocabulary, problem behaviors, and cognitive skills at age 3 and again at age 5, they found that 3-year-old toddlers who were breastfed for at least six months had somewhat of an edge over formula-fed babies. However, breastfed babies appeared to have lost their lead by the time they turned 5 years old.
Because some women who can't or choose not to breastfeed often end up feeling super guilty, this new research should provide some welcome relief - particularly since experts are applauding the study for its smart design: Researchers crunched the numbers in a way that eliminates inherent differences among mothers who did and did not breastfeed, including socioeconomic status and level of education, which can significantly affect a child's development and behavior.
Although the many proven benefits of breastfeeding suggest you should still nurse (if you can!), you can stop worrying about messing up your kid's brain for good if you feed them their first meals from a bottle. Chances are, your baby will turn out just fine.
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