The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated its breastfeeding policies, issuing its strongest statements yet about the health benefits of breastfeeding for babies.
Here’s a look at highlights of the AAP’s new official policy:
The decision to breastfeed is not a lifestyle choice but rather a basic and critical health decision regarding infant welfare. In fact, breastfeeding benefits extend into adulthood with lower rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease risk factors, diabetes and malignancies.
The AAP now recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as it’s mutually desired by mother and baby. Previously, the AAP allowed for solids to be introduced at about 4 months.
It’s especially important for high-risk premature infants to receive breast milk exclusively to help them thrive.
The use of pacifiers in very young newborns should be avoided, if possible, until breastfeeding is well-established — usually around three to four weeks. Introducing a pacifier too early could interfere with nursing.