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The Benefits of Breastfeeding

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The phrase “breast is best” is often heard when discussing the benefits of breastfeeding. There are many short and long-term breastfeeding benefits for both mom and baby. Some mothers choose to breastfeed exclusively, some choose to supplement with formula, and others choose not to or cannot breastfeed at all. While there are many breastfeeding benefits for babies, this article is not aimed to shame anyone for choosing to use formula. Whether you’re looking for the short-term benefits of breastfeeding, planning extended breastfeeding, or are unsure, this article is here to help! Keep reading to learn more about breastfeeding stages and the benefits of breastmilk for your baby!

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The Baby Daybook App makes breastfeeding easier and more organized. With just a tap, you can record your baby’s feedings, easily access essential information at a glance, and get timely reminders. Your peace of mind is just one download away.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

The benefits of breastfeeding are far-reaching for mom and baby! Most crucial are the benefits of breastmilk for newborns. Our bodies are designed to give our babies what they need to thrive and develop in the early months.

Baby formulas have come a long way and are an excellent substitute for mothers who cannot breastfeed, but they lack the vital antibodies early breastfeeding provides.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that babies are breastfed exclusively for the first six months. However, family lifestyles and work accommodations do not always align with extended breastfeeding.

Therefore, it is recommended to nurse your baby as long as possible to provide, at minimum, the early, short-term benefits of breastfeeding. 

Woman breastfeeding a newborn. Breastmilk provides numerous benefits to baby.
Breastfeeding benefits both mom and baby

Benefits for Baby

The breastfeeding benefits for babies are numerous! The phrase “breast is best” exists because breastfeeding is one of the best gifts you can give your newborn.

  • Your breastmilk boosts your baby’s immunity and promotes healthy growth.
  • Breastfeeding enhances brain development. Breast milk contains essential fatty acids like DHA, which is crucial for brain development and is linked to improved intelligence and neurological development in children.
  • Your breast milk provides the ideal balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. 
  • Breastfed babies digest their food more efficiently than formula-fed ones, reducing spitting up, diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Breast milk contains antibodies, enzymes, and immune cells that help protect infants from illnesses and infections by offering passive immunity, safeguarding against respiratory infections, allergies, asthma, and other diseases. 
  • Breastfeeding promotes skin-to-skin and eye contact, creating a bond with your baby. Nursing can foster a deeper emotional connection, providing a vital early sense of security and comfort for you and your baby.

Benefits for Mom

Breastfeeding benefits aren’t only for the baby; there are many benefits for the mom, too! Chief among them for many moms is that breastfeeding can help you shed the baby weight quicker!

  • Breastfeeding can reduce your risk of breast cancer.
  • Breastfeeding aids in postpartum weight loss by burning excess calories.
  • Breastfeeding can help mom recover faster from childbirth and reduce her risk of high blood pressure, certain breast and ovarian cancers, and type 2 diabetes. 
  • Breastmilk is convenient, cost-effective, and time-saving; you can feed your baby anytime and anywhere.
  • Breastfeeding may also assist in delaying the return of your cycle.

Breastfeeding Stages

Before having a baby, many women think breastfeeding happens naturally and is simple. Unfortunately, it requires a little effort, and you may have to try several positions and techniques before discovering what works best.

Remembering which side your baby nursed on and for how long is a challenge for new sleep-deprived mothers. However, you can track each breastfeeding with the Baby Daybook feeding tracker. Tracking your babies’ meals takes all the guesswork out of when they last ate and how much they drank! 

Rest assured, however, that with the help of family, friends, or a breastfeeding professional, once you get the swing, the remainder of the breastfeeding stages are a cinch!

Breastfeeding tracking benefits for moms
Breastfeeding tracking

First Month

Few days

During the first few days postpartum, your body produces nutrient-rich colostrum, sometimes called liquid gold. Colostrum is thick, yellowish, and packed with essential nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby. 

A newborn should eat 8-12 times per day and will only drink 1-2 ounces (30-60 ml) per feeding.

Weeks 1 & 2

Two to five days after delivery, breastmilk slowly replaces colostrum. This milk is called transitional milk; it may take up to two weeks postpartum for your transitional milk to entirely switch over. Transitional milk will change to a bluish-white tint. 

Your breasts become fuller and heavy and may even feel painful and engorged. However, frequent nursing prevents discomfort from engorgement. 

Your baby will slowly begin eating up to 2-3 ounces (60 – 90 ml) per feeding. The early days are full of magic but also little sleep. Tracking your baby’s feedings will help you remember when they last ate, and you can set reminders for when it is time to eat again!

Weeks 3-5

Until 1 month old, your newborn will eat about eight times a day, for a total of about 20 to 24 ounces (600 – 720 ml). By one month of age, a baby will be eating 3 to 4 ounces (90 to 120 ml) per meal.

After the first few weeks, your mature milk will come in, and the long-term benefits of breastfeeding continue as your body makes the exact nutrients your baby needs! Mature milk is fattier to support their quickly developing body.

Months 1-3

Your baby will need fewer feedings now, approximately 6-8 feedings daily. At around 2 months old, your baby will drink 4-5 ounces (120 – 150 ml) per meal, increasing to 4-6 ounces (120 – 180 ml) per meal at 3 months old, or 24 to 30 ounces (720 – 900 ml) per day. 

When nursing, allow your baby to empty one breast before switching to the other; a baby should nurse for about 15 minutes on each breast. You can track which breast they used in the Baby Daybook feeding tracker so you remember to start on the other side next time!

Months 3-6

As your baby grows, they’ll consume more milk per feeding, allowing them to go longer between feedings. This will help them sleep longer at night and reduce the need for nighttime feedings.

At this age, most breastfed babies are nursing around 6 times a day. At 4 months of age, babies should have 4 to 6 ounces (120 – 180 ml) of breastmilk every feeding and by the time they are 6 months old, they can have up to 8 ounces (240 ml) every 4 or 5 hours.

Months 6-9

Breastmilk no longer provides enough calories to sustain your baby’s growth and development at six months old. However, the majority of their calories should still come from breast milk, as it is still important and beneficial after 6 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you continue breastfeeding while supplementing with additional foods until they are two years old.

Introducing solids is often an exciting (and messy) phase for parents and children! Don’t worry about how much your baby eats when you start solids. It is all about exposing them to new textures and tastes.

Your baby may have a few teeth now, so watch out for bites; gently remove your breast from their mouth if they bite, and remind them to be gentle before starting again. 

From 6-9 months old, your baby should nurse or drink breastmilk from a bottle 4-6 times daily, totaling 24-48 ounces (720-1440 ml) of milk. The amount your baby drinks will be based on their weight and appetite.

Months 9-12

Your baby may be crawling or even walking and continues to develop rapidly! The benefits of breastfeeding continue, but your baby will also consume more solids.

Between the ages of 9 months and one year, your baby should get half of their daily calories from breast milk, which is about 24 ounces (720 ml). Breastmilk is still an essential part of their diet. You should breastfeed or bottlefeed with breastmilk 4-6 times daily with 7-8 ounces (210-240 ml) per feeding.

You can also begin offering breastmilk in a sippy cup at meal times!

Breastmilk Feeding Averages

Here are some general feeding recommendations for your baby based on their age. However, please keep in mind that these guidelines are only an estimate of how much your baby may need, as each baby is unique and their needs can change from day to day.

Age of BabyAverage Amount of Breast Milk per FeedingDaily Feedings
Newborn1 to 2 ounces (30 – 60 ml)8 to 12 feedings
1-2 weeks2 to 3 ounces (60 – 90 ml)8 to 12 feedings
3-5 weeks3 to 4 ounces (90 – 120 ml)8 to 10 feedings
1-3 months4 to 5 ounces (120 – 150 ml)6 to 8 feedings
3-6 months4 to 8 ounces (120 – 240 ml)6 to 8 feedings
6-9 months6 to 8 ounces (180 – 240 ml)4 to 6 feedings
9-12 months7 to 8 ounces (210 – 240 ml)4 to 6 feedings


There is no doubt the benefits of breastmilk for your baby are far-reaching. In the first few days, the short-term benefits of breastfeeding include providing your baby with rich colostrum and bonding through skin-to-skin contact. Long-term benefits of breastfeeding include reduced risk of obesity, asthma, and other illnesses. Breastfeeding also boosts brain development and helps mom recover postpartum and reduce her risk of breast cancer. 

Download now!
The Baby Daybook App makes breastfeeding easier and more organized. With just a tap, you can record your baby’s feedings, easily access essential information at a glance, and get timely reminders. Your peace of mind is just one download away.


Note: Our writers strive to maintain accuracy and quality in all content produced. However, it’s important to note that the information provided on our blog should not be considered professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. It’s highly recommended to consult a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns or questions.

Article by
L. Elizabeth Forry
L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with fifteen years of classroom teaching experience. She holds a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theater, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. She has taught children in Japan, Washington D.C., Chicago, and suburban Maryland. She is trained as a reading therapist, has a TEFL certification, and has done extensive work with children regarding mental health, social-emotional development, and gender development. She has written curricula for children and educators and has led training sessions for parents and educators on various topics on early childhood development. She is the mother of two boys and resides outside Annapolis, Maryland.
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