1. You'll help raise a happier kid. Breast-fed infants are half as likely to experience anxiety throughout childhood, according to a study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Mom-baby bonding strengthens babies' stress response, making them more resilient, says study author Scott Montgomery, Ph.D., a Swedish epidemiologist.
2. You'll slash your risk of diabetes. Every year a woman breast-feeds makes her 15 percent less prone to develop type 2 diabetes, according to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "We think that breast-feeding burns fat stored during pregnancy, so nursing moms lose slightly more weight," says researcher Alison Stuebe, M.D. "This regulates the hormone insulin, preventing diabetes over time."
3. You'll protect your infant from allergies. Exclusively nursing for six months reduces your child's exposure to solid foods. Before that age, her still-developing immune system may not tolerate certain foods and may produce antibodies that can trigger an allergic reaction, explains Amal Assa'ad, M.D., medical director of the Food Allergy Clinic at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.