It’s no surprise that childhood obesity is a major concern in our country. Experts are pushing for improvements in school cafeteria food options, increased physical activity, and limiting TV and video game time at home. Most of these efforts are aimed at reducing the level of overweight and obese school-aged children. However, a new report found that nationwide more than 20 percent of young children, ages 2 to 5, are now overweight or obese.

What can be done to prevent the extra pounds from packing on at such a young age?

Research has shown that in order to give children the healthiest start possible, all babies should be breastfed. Breastfed babies are less likely to be overweight or obese during childhood and are less likely to suffer from respiratory and ear infections, type 2 diabetes, and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and many other health organizations recommend that babies are breastfed for the first year of life; however, very few are breastfed at the year mark. In fact, according to a comprehensive report about obesity released last month, only about 13 percent of mothers in the United States are breastfeeding exclusively at six months. With the continuing findings highlighting the importance of breastfeeding and its relationship to body weight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s has outlined steps for care-givers and hospitals to encourage successful Breastfeeding.

The Baby-Friendly Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice ‘rooming in’ to allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

Here’s how hospitals have done on those suggestions between 2007 and 2009. breastfeeding

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