Benefits for families

How will breastfeeding help my family?

Breastfeeding helps not only the baby but the whole family. With a healthier baby, parents have fewer trips to health-care providers, less stress, and more time for other children and to contribute to the family's wellbeing. Breastfeeding saves time and money: Parents don’t have to buy infant formula or spend time preparing it and cleaning bottles. With a ready supply of food for the baby, travel is easier. Children who grow into healthy adults are more likely to support themselves and not burden their families. Similarly, mothers who breastfeed are less likely to become ill and are able to keep contributing to their family’s well-being.

A) Short-term benefits of breastfeeding for families

Breastfeeding benefits the whole family.

It results in less illness for the baby, and families benefit from:

  • Fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations (Bentley 2018).
  • A happier baby.
  • More time for other children and other activities that benefit the family.

Breastfeeding saves parents the trouble of:

  • Getting infant formula.
  • Preparing infant formula.
  • Sterilizing and cleaning bottles, nipples, and mixing tools.
  • Warming infant formula.
  • Storing infant formula.

Breastfeeding saves families the cost of:

  • Bottles and nipples.
  • Infant formula.
  • Cleaning supplies.
  • Electricity or fuel for:
    • Sterilizing water for infant formula.
    • Warming infant formula.
    • Washing and sterilizing bottles and nipples.
  • Illness (Lechosa-Muñiz 2020):
    • Medical care for mothers and babies.
    • Medication.
    • Absence from work while caring for sick mothers or babies.

Breastfeeding makes travel easier as parents do not have to:

  • Prepare and pack infant formula if leaving the house with the baby.
  • Bring a breast pump and other supports if the mother is leaving the baby with another caregiver.

Breastfeeding improves food security and quickly calms babies.

Breastfeeding protects mothers from illness.

Altogether, this means less stress and more resources for the family.

B) Long-term benefits of breastfeeding for families

Babies who breastfeed effectively receive the best nutrition and tend to experience less illness and harmful stress. This allows them to reach their full potential including higher levels of education (Straub 2019). As adults, they are:

Mothers who have breastfed tend to be healthier. For example, they tend to have lower rates of diabetes and breast cancer. As healthy individuals, they are able to continue to contribute to the family.

References

Bentley JP, Burgner DP, Shand AW, et al. Gestation at birth, mode of birth, infant feeding and childhood hospitalization with infection. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2018 May 16

Lechosa-Muñiz C, Paz-Zulueta M, Herrero MSA, et al. Health Care Costs Associated to Type of Feeding in the First Year of Life. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jun 30;17(13):E4719
 
Straub N, Grunert P, Northstone K, et al. Economic impact of breast-feeding-associated improvements of childhood cognitive development, based on data from the ALSPAC. Br J Nutr. 2019 Sep;122(s1):S16-S21