Breastfeeding Benefits: Fewer Behavioural Problems in Children

Just in case you thought there weren’t enough reasons to choose breastfeeding over formula feeding, here’s another reason to breastfeed for longer…

According to a study reported in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, breastfeeding is linked to fewer behavioural problems in childhood. They found that:

  • Babies who are breast-fed for at least four months are less likely to develop major behavior problems in childhood.
  • They’re also less likely to lie or steal or to be anxious or hyperactive.

Although there are limitations to the study since it relies on questionaires based on parents’ responses, the data was collected was from more than 10,000 infants born in 2000 and 2001 and the “researchers found that 16 percent of formula-fed children had developed behavior problems by age five, as compared to six percent of children who had been breast-fed.” If you can’t get access to the full publication on the Archives of Disease in Childhood, there are more details about the study on the University of Oxford.

As to exactly why breastfeeding reduces behaviour problems in childhood, researchers can only speculate that it might be due to:

  • the presence of certain fatty acids in breastmilk that help brain development
  • the close bond between mother and child that breastfeeding allows
  • the reduced likelihood of childhood illnesses in breastfed babies

Whatever the reason, the message is clear, “breast is best” and here are more articles on why Mums should breastfeed if they can:

And if you are pregnant with your first child and would like some tips on breastfeeding, here are 16 breastfeeding tips for first time mothers.

While we’re on the topic, I was rather appalled to read about the change in Evenflo’s ad campaign which is now designed to make mothers feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding and to portray breastfeeding as inconvenient and difficult. Personally, I thought pumping breastmilk was inconvenient and avoided it as much as possible.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

6 thoughts on “Breastfeeding Benefits: Fewer Behavioural Problems in Children

  1. I’ll second the fact that pumping is troublesome. You also increase the chance of infection ie. poor sterility

    Unfortunately, working mothers have no choice and it’s almost fifteen months now since I started pumping. After a while, I felt like a cow on schedule 🙂


    1. Jessica, I salute you! I hated pumping and I’m so glad I don’t work because I feel I would have given up on breastfeeding if I had to work because of the pumping.


    1. Yeah, I found Gavin extremely resistent to the bottle. He never liked it. But Gareth at least was more willing to drink from the bottle. It really shows now with their reactions to food. Gavin won’t eat anything he doesn’t like – hungry or not. Gareth will relent if he’s hungry.


  2. I do wonder about the behavioural benefits, since my no.3 was breastfed the longest amongst the older 3 kids, and he’s the one with the most unpredictable temperament!


    1. Well Sam, I only quote the studies. I do agree that I wonder the same sometimes, but then I guess it is a matter of perspective. For instance, you often read that breastfed babies get sick less often but how much is “less often”? Some people misinterprete it and think that it must mean hardly ever and then question why their baby still gets sick.

      Again with child behaviour – there is always going to be the genetic element of temperament that you cannot escape. The only true comparison (which would be impossible) is your own child being breastfed versus not being breastfed, but since you can only go one way or the other, you will never really know.

      At home, I always feel like my children are going to drive me to the looney bin, but I have had lots of compliments from strangers about how well behaved my children are. Although, these days, I really wonder…


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