Food & nutrition

Breast milk provides your baby with all the nutrition they need to grow in the first 6 months. When your baby starts on solid food at around 6 months, you can continue to breast feed to help them grow and develop.  We recommend breastfeeding your baby until 1 year or older.  Breastfeeding is a natural way for a mother and baby to get to know each other too.

The benefits of breastfeeding

Breast milk is the perfect food, because it’s easy for your baby to digest. It adapts to your baby’s needs, is the right temperature, and, best of all, it’s free! There are many benefits to breastfeeding:

  • Being breastfed gives your baby protection against some illnesses.

  • It may protect against eczema, asthma, reflux, some bowel diseases, some childhood cancers and being overweight, and may also reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes later.

  • A baby in a family/whānau with food allergies may have less risk of developing allergies when they are breastfed.

  • Breast milk may protect babies from diarrhoea, ear infections and respiratory infections. If they do get an infection, breastfed babies usually won’t be so ill.

  • Research shows that women who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer.

If you need help getting your baby to breast feed, we have plenty of tips and ideal positions.

How breasts produce milk

The breast is made up of bundles of glands that produce milk. The first milk is called colostrum. It’s only a small amount, but it contains proteins and antibodies to help cell growth, and to protect your baby from infections. Colostrum also helps your baby pass the first dark green poos, called meconium.

In the first days after birth, the breasts start to produce more milk. The milk changes to a watery blue and a creamy yellow colour. The colour of the milk normally changes during the feed.
If you’re worried about not having enough milk, be reassured that the more the baby breastfeeds with an effective suck, the more milk you will produce.

When to start giving your baby solid food

The ideal time to give solid food is around 6 months, when your baby is showing signs of being ready for and needing extra food.

If you have questions about your baby’s feeding, take a look at our commonly asked questions.

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