Exclusive Breastfeeding Key to Child’s Mental Health and Development – UNICEF

IHIDERO Victor Osae, Kaduna

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said that Exclusive Breastfeeding is key to child’s mental health and development.
UNICEF made this known on Monday during a press briefing to mark the end of the World Breastfeeding Week in Kaduna. Addressing journalists in Kaduna, Uptal Moitra, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Kaduna said that initiation of breastfeeding within 30minutes after birth saves mothers from the risk of postpartum haemorrhage and maternal death; saying “exclusive breastfeeding on demand in the first 6 months of live without water or any other food starts every baby on healthy path in life, providing all the nutrients the body requires for optimal health, psychosocial and cognitive development with higher Intelligent Quotient and mental development. 

” Breastfeeding is safe, not easily contaminated, prevents diarrhea, asthma and other forms of allergies, reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in both mother, child and non-communicable diseases; including diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases later in life. 

“Breast milk provides 100% of the nutrients required at 0-6 months; 50% of the nutrients required at 6-12 months and 1/3 of the requirements between 12 and 24 months. Appropriate complementary foods should be added at 6 months while breastfeeding continues up to 2 years and beyond.

“Breastfeeding is not only the cornerstone of a child’s healthy deelopment; it is also the foundation of a country’s development”, he said.

Whilst emphasizing the importance of Exclusive Breastfeeding, the Nutrition Specialist of UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, Florence Oni, stated that breastfeeding is one of the key aspects of Infant and Young Child Feeding practice; noting that “breastfeeding a baby on demand both day and night for up to 6 months helps to avoid stunting, recurrent and chronic illness, weight loss and low mental development.

” Make sure you feed your baby with the first yellowish milk known as colostrum. It is 100% safe vaccine and it protects your baby from many diseases. Exclusive breastfeeding means giving only breast-milk; no other milk, water, liquid, teas, herbal preparations, or foods, not even sips of water except for medicines prescribed by a medical doctor or nurse. 

“Breast-milk is 88% water. Every time a mother breastfeeds, she gives her baby water through breast-milk. It is the best possible food and drink that can be offered to a baby so the baby will grow to be strong and healthy. The more often a woman breastfeeds, the more breastmilk is produced, which means more water for the baby, ” she said. 

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