The Benefits of Breastfeeding

What are the benefits of breastfeeding as compared to bottle-feeding?

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Studies are mixed on whether breastfeeding can give your baby a true advantage (when compared with bottle-feeding) in developing speech and language skills, but breastfeeding does naturally strengthen the tongue, lips, and jaw in a way that promotes speech and language readiness. An increased duration of breastfeeding is associated with a decreased risk of: abnormal tongue posture, nonnutritive sucking, orthodontic treatment, and malocclusion (misaligned teeth). Bottle-feeding requires a different tongue movement than breastfeeding does, and overtime may affect the development and growth of oral and facial tissue.

A newborn baby suckles, but as the baby continues to grow he/she must develop stronger muscles to have more efficient feeds. As the tongue works to retrieve milk from the breast, it is also spreading out, getting stronger, and anchoring itself at the back of the mouth. This anchor is essential for speech because some sounds later on are developed in the back of the mouth. The anchor also allows the tongue, jaw, and lips to move independently from one another (another precursor for mature speech). Bilabial sounds such as /m/,/b/,/p/ come from the lips and /k/, /g/, and /ng/ all require independent movement – by the tongue.

Bottle-feeding gives your baby less control over his/her milk intake. Milk flows easily from a bottle nipple even if the baby is not sucking. The baby must push his/her tongue forward to stop the milk from flowing outward in excess. In addition, a faster flow can promote a baby to continue feeding after he/she is full. During breastfeeding, a baby is more easily able to control the milk flow without the forward motion of the tongue.  Research has also suggested that yet another benefit to breastfeeding is that infants who are breastfed are better able to determine fullness as children and are therefore less likely to overeat as well and become prone to obesity (Isslemann 2011).

Sources:

Are There Differences Between Breastfeeding Directly and Bottle-feeding Expressed Milk? – Native Mothering™. (2012, April 30). Retrieved February 2, 2015, from http://nativemothering.com/2012/04/are-there-differences-between-breastfeeding-directly-and-bottle-feeding-expressed-milk/

Breast-Feeding & Speech Development: What You Need to Know – mom.me. (n.d.). Retrieved February 2, 2015, from http://mom.me/baby/10084-breastfeeding-speech-development-what-you-need-know/

 

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