Why Breast is Best
There is no doubt that breast milk is the best food for your baby; it promotes healthy growth and development with all of the protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals that your baby needs. Breast milk also contains valuable antibodies that can help prevent diarrhea and decreases the risk of SIDS, ear, chest and stomach infections. Breastfeeding also offers many health benefits for mom; not only does it decrease your risk of breast and ovarian cancer later in life, it helps you return to your pre-pregnancy weight faster and, in those first six months when sleep is rare and life seems to be a blur, it is the ultimate convenience food – always available, always the right temperature and always free.
Health Canada recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life. Once you introduce solids, babies can continue to breastfeed for two years or more. How long you decide to breastfeed is a personal decision and may be dependent on multiple factors. If you plan on going back to work, with a little preparation you can still continue breastfeeding. See our Expressing and Storing Milk section for more information.
If your baby is not breastfed, or is partially breastfed, commercial formulas are the most acceptable alternative to breast milk until nine to 12 months of age when solids take a more prominent role in the baby's diet. Please remember that formula does not contain the same kind of valuable antibodies or benefits as breast milk and carries certain risks. If you decide not to breastfeed, or to partially breastfeed, be sure to read our section on formula for important facts on how to feed your baby safely.