Breastfeed exclusively for six months
Babies should be exclusively breastfed (eating only breast milk) for the first six months of life. Babies under six months of age do not need any food, formula or water – only breast milk.
Breastfeed for at least one year
Babies should get most of their calories from breast milk until one year. Solid food can be introduced at six months and babies can eat some solid food between six months and one year. However, most of their calories and nutrients should come from breast milk until age one.
Breastfeed as long as mom and baby want to after one year
After age one, babies and toddlers continue to gain nutrition, disease-fighting antibodies, and comfort from breastfeeding. Continue to breastfeed as long as you and your baby are comfortable and want to continue.
Breastfeeding moms need extra nutrients each day
Breastfeeding moms need more nutrients and calories each day. The number of extra calories needed will depend on how much breast milk is being produced for the baby, the mother’s weight and activity level, and the number of calories her body needs to maintain weight.
In general, eating according to need will ensure proper calorie intake. Listen to your body and eat when you are hungry until you are full. The average breastfeeding mother needs about an extra 300-500 calories each day.
Instead of seeking extra calories, seek extra nutrients. Make sure you are selecting nutrient-rich foods, like whole grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits, and have a lot of variety in your diet.
Breastfeeding moms need extra water each day
It is important for breastfeeding moms to stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause a decrease in milk supply. Many women feel thirstier while they are breastfeeding. Listen to your body and drink water according to what you need.
Other beverages such as juice, tea, coffee and soda will offer some water, but these should be consumed in moderation. The best source of hydration is water.
Breastfeeding moms need to stay well rested
It can be common for a breastfeeding mother to neglect her need to rest, but it is imperative that moms stay well rested. Take a nap while your baby is napping. Consider co-sleeping during the night, so your awake time is limited while your baby is nursing during the night. Limit stress in the home to provide a nurturing environment for yourself and your baby.
Hector Cruz is the Founder of the global campaign “Project: BreastFeeding”. He is passionate about helping to educate men of the importance of their roles in breastfeeding support. He is married and has a beautiful daughter and two dogs.