Breast milk is the most perfect food. In fact, the World Health Organization says that infants should be breastfed exclusively until 6 months old to "achieve optimal growth, development, and health." The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that women breastfeed for at least 12 months to give their children the full health benefits.
But aside from giving your baby every single health advantage there is at mealtime, breast milk is also the ultimate cure-all for almost every ailment that might come up in baby's early days. It's a natural antibiotic and has almost otherworldly power to both soothe and heal. Try it:
• Dabbed as a salve on cracked or tender nipples, baby acne, heat rash, or other skin irritations like diaper rash. (Though breastfed babies get way less diaper rash, and babies in cloth diapers get almost none. An no diapers equals zero rash!)
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• Squirted in baby's nose on an airplane or other germy places to protect the nasal membranes. It also triggers the sneeze reflex, which can help force out any nasty germs that might have snuck in. Another bonus is that nursing during takeoff and landing helps keep baby's little ears from popping.
• For red, irritated eyes—though you should check with your pediatrician to make sure the irritation is nothing more serious than a plugged duct or a minor infections.
• Dropped in the ears, it can potentially reduce the discomfort of an ear infection (though in my experience, kind babies are less likely to get these.)
• Applied to relieve and heal cuts and scrapes.
For more info, learn how to avoid common breastfeeding roadblocks.