August 1 – 7th is World Breastfeeding Week, a campaign created by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) which was founded in 1991. The theme of this year’s Week is to highlight how breastfeeding creates a more sustainable world.

Indeed, when you decide to breastfeed it doesn’t just impact the health of your child for the better, it also changes the world for the better.

In 2015, the United Nations ratified, and all 193 Member States adopted, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that, if achieved, will create a safer, healthier, happier world. WABA explains how breastfeeding is a fundamental part of achieving these goals:

SDG: No Poverty
How Breastfeeding Helps Achieve It: Breastfeeding is a natural and low-cost way of feeding babies and children. It is affordable for everyone and does not burden household budgets compared to artificial feeding. Breastfeeding contributes to poverty reduction.

SDG: Zero Hunger
How Breastfeeding Helps Achieve It: Exclusive breastfeeding and continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond provide high quality nutrients and adequate energy and can help prevent hunger, undernutrition and obesity. Breastfeeding also means food security for infants.

SDG: Quality Education
How Breastfeeding Helps Achieve It: Breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding are fundamentals for readiness to learn. Breastfeeding and good quality complementary foods significantly contribute to mental and cognitive development and thus promote learning.

SDG: Affordable and Clean Energy
How Breastfeeding Helps Achieve It: Breastfeeding entails less energy when compared to formula production industries. It also reduces the need for water, firewood and fossil fuels in the home.

SDG: Climate Action
How Breastfeeding Helps Achieve It: Breastfeeding safeguards infant health and nutrition in times of adversity and weather-related disasters due to global warming.

SDG: Gender Equality
How Breastfeeding Helps Achieve It: Breastfeeding is the great equaliser, giving every child a fair and best start in life. Breastfeeding is uniquely a right of women and they should be supported by society to breastfeed optimally. The breastfeeding experience can be satisfying and empowering for the mother as she is in control of how she feeds her baby.

Visit the World Breastfeeding Week’s site to read more about how breastfeeding helps attain the rest of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Optimal Breastfeeding: Two Years or Beyond

Now in its 25th year, WABA was inspired by the Innocenti Declaration to protect, promote and support breastfeeding worldwide. But what does this mean? The Innocenti Declaration states:

As a global goal for optimal maternal and child health and nutrition, all women should be enabled to practice exclusive breastfeeding and all infants should be fed exclusively on breast milk from birth to 4-6 months of age. Thereafter, children should continue to be breastfed, while receiving appropriate and adequate complementary foods, for up to two years of age or beyond. This child-feeding ideal is to be achieved by creating an appropriate environment of awareness and support so that women can breastfeed in this manner.

Supporting Your Desire To Breastfeed

Probably the most common misconception about breast milk is that it’s just food and that formula is a healthy equivalent. However, breast milk’s nutritional profile is far superior and it’s much more than just food. Breast milk is a highly sophisticated signaling system developed over millions of years that relays information to the baby to develop adequate metabolic, hypothalamic and immunologic programming that can affect their whole life. Formula interferes with this signaling and researchers have found that the effects can be lifelong.

Becoming educated about the immense benefits breastfeeding offers as well as the downsides of infant formula is often what makes mothers resolute in their decision to provide breast milk no matter the odds – whether they breastfeed on their own, find a wet nurse or turn to donor milk.

We urge you to read our post, Formula? Wait! Try This First for more information and resources to help guide you through one of the greatest opportunities you have to positively impact your child’s health for life.

Make formula a very last resort; it is nowhere near a close second.

Breast is Best, But Turn to Glass if You Need

When you need to store your precious milk, choose the cleanest container available – glass baby bottles. In the Safe Baby Healthy Child Shop we carry only glass baby bottles with rubber nipples, not silicone. Despite company claims that plastic baby bottles are free of the latest toxin that has come to the public’s attention, it is difficult to know for sure what is in the plastic being used and if it will leach out. Glass is always the cleaner and safer option compared to plastic.

Additionally, we recognize that many nipples are now made of medical-grade silicone. The current mainstream understanding is that this material is safe. However, there are studies that have given us pause. Our post “Is Silicone in Baby Products and Bakeware Really Safe?” provides an often-unheard perspective on silicone. For now, Safe Baby Healthy Child’s position is to apply the precautionary principle and choose products that are not made of silicone, whether medical-grade or not.