Breastfeeding and early childhood development

Advocacy brief

Breastfeeding and early childhood development


The first years of life have a profound effect on a child’s future. These years are a critical early window of opportunity to provide the nutrition, protection, bonding and stimulation that children need to reach their full potential.

Adequate nutrition, safe environments and responsive adult caregiving are the best ways to support healthy brain development. Inadequate early nutrition undermines brain development in ways that can make it difficult for a child to recover later.

Breastfeeding is one of the first early childhood development interventions and helps prepare children for a prosperous future in a cost-effective way for families and societies. Breastfeeding supports healthy growth and protects against life-threatening and chronic illnesses. Breastmilk includes long-chain fatty acids and other nutrients needed for healthy brain development.

Breastfeeding and early childhood development
Global Breastfeeding Collective, UNICEF, WHO
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