Breastfeeding Gives Children Everywhere
a Healthy Start in Life
UNICEF and partners offer nursing mothers around the world the support they need to help their babies thrive.
Why UNICEF works so hard to protect, promote and support breastfeeding
Helping mothers breastfeed helps ensure their babies get the best start in life.
And breastfeeding becomes even more crucial in a humanitarian crisis, when families are often displaced and where access to clean water, adequate sanitation and basic services is often limited.
UNICEF works with partners around the world to help raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding and to make sure mothers are getting the support they need to be successful. As natural as it is, breastfeeding isn't always easy.
Breastfeeding is a solid investment in baby's future health and well being — and mom's
Breast milk is safe, nutritious and accessible — the best form of nutrition for babies, especially for the first six months of life. But it's more than a meal.
Breastfeeding can help newborns fight off infection; often called "baby's first vaccine", breastmilk also offers protection from many childhood illnesses and bolsters brain development.
As mothers breastfeed, they share elements of their immune systems with their babies, leaving them less vulnerable to disease. Infants who breastfeed are less likely to develop allergies. In environments with poor sanitation and unsafe drinking water, breastfeeding also protects children from waterborne illness.
In fact, promoting breastfeeding as a best practice and providing breastfeeding mothers with sustained support is considered crucial for reducing child mortality from preventable and treatable causes like diarrhea and respiratory infections. Babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.
Breastfeeding after birth also provides emotional benefits for babies and mothers. It reduces stress for nursing mothers, and breastfed babies are calmer and cry less overall.
UNICEF promotes breastfeeding and supports breastfeeding mothers worldwide
UNICEF works with global, national and local partners to communicate the benefits of breastfeeding and to help connect women to support services. This includes counseling from lactation consultants, nutrition specialists and health care professionals or peer support providers.
While connecting with mothers to discuss the benefits of breastfeeding, UNICEF-trained partners and healthcare workers can also convey the importance of child immunization and early childhood education.