Another day, another study on the benefits of breastfeeding released. New research from Brown University has shown that breast milk boosts brain development in babies by up to 30 percent. Babes who are exclusively breastfed for at least three months apparently can have extra growth in the parts of the brain that control language, emotion, and understanding.
Scientists took brain scans of the babies who had been fed a diet of breast milk from very early on and compared them with those who had been fed formula. The results showed that babies fed breast milk alone had the quickest growth in the tissues packed with nerve fibers that link different parts of the brain that are used for learning. The babies who were fed formula had less of these tissues.
But! By no means does that mean babies who are fed formula are dumb! Not for a minute!
After reading about the study, I instinctively went down to the comments section, knowing some type of war would have broken out, as this is typically what happens after an article of this nature -- and lo and behold, it had! Mamas who gave their little ones formula out of either necessity or sheer desire seemed to be upset at yet another article/study that claims that breastfed babies are the world's smartest creatures. And it's hard to blame them -- sometimes, it can feel like everyone has it out for formula feeders! But here's the thing, formula mamas: Your babies are smart, too! Really smart! Other things go into a child's brain development. Sure, there are many studies showing the benefits of breastfeeding. But be your child's teacher; spend time showing them how things work; engage them. And don't waste time worrying about how breastfeeding didn't work out. That will do nothing whatsoever for your child's development.
When these breastfeeding studies come out, they're not meant to shame non-breastfeeding moms (though, yes, some do turn it into that). Every baby is different, and external factors -- IE, parents -- play huge roles in children's development, as well. So, don't get down, formula feeders. And don't misconstrue any of these studies. Just because your little one wasn't breastfed doesn't mean they're dumb. (And deep down, I think you already know that.)
Did you breast or formula feed?
Image via shingleback/Flickr
Going to baseball games
Riding bike rides in the nice weather
Playing outside after work/school
Going for walks outside