"Keeping your baby close can help you start to understand his hunger and comfort cues and this can be beneficial to his health and well-being," explained Tiffany DeWitt, RD, MBA, a registered dietitian specializing in infant nutrition for Abbott.
But how? Let's take a closer look at a few science-backed benefits of bonding with your little one.
Support Baby Immune System
"Skin-to-skin contact soon after birth promotes nursing and helps establish milk supply, and breast milk itself aids in building a healthy immune system," DeWitt said.
Research has also shown that kangaroo care — carrying babies and maintaining close body-to-body contact — is an effective way to successfully increase exclusive breastfeeding.
Related: Breastfeeding Resources
"Human milk is nourishing and supports development in many ways – one of those ways is by providing immune-supporting human milk oligosaccharides, or HMOs — prebiotics that make up about 10 percent of breast milk," DeWitt explained.
"They actually feed the good bacteria in the baby's gut, which helps support a healthy gut. This is important because about 70 percent of the immune system is found in the gut.”
Related: Human Milk Oligosaccharides Explained (Graphic)
For mothers who aren't able to breastfeed exclusively, or even at all, there are formulas available now with HMOs. "Before, HMOs have only been available at significant levels in breast milk," said DeWitt, "but formulas like Similac® with 2'-FL HMO give parents feeding with infant formula the ability to provide an HMO to their babies."
Whether you are breast or formula feeding, the time immediately after birth is critical for passing along immunity-boosting bacteria from mom to baby. To help boost your baby's gut microbiota, get as much skin-to-skin contact as possible during those first 24 hours.