Common Baby Illnesses and Breastfeeding

Some common childhood illnesses

  • Flu or common cold.
  • Influenza.
  • Middle ear infection.
  • Stomach flu. 
  • Rotavirus.
  • Chickenpox. 
  • Measles. 
  • Mumps.
  • Hand foot and mouth disease.

Baby Illnesses and their Impact on Breastfeeding

Chances are, that even if your baby is breastfed, he/she will experience at least one of these common baby illnesses mentioned above.

Breastfeeding does reduce the risk of getting ear infections and stomach flu and it strengthens the immune system so that a breastfed baby can handle any illness better than a formula fed baby.

It is recommended to continue feeding your baby while he/she is ill, especially if hospitalized. Some mothers might need to express their milk for their babies, but breast milk should always be the number one choice.

Physically breastfeeding your baby is always best if possible, since most babies find immense comfort from being close to their mothers, even more so, while ill.


  • Experiment with different breastfeeding positions. If your baby is finding it difficult to breathe or if he/she has ear ache, it can help to breastfeed in a more upright position.
  • Clear a blocked nose with breast milk. Breast milk is natural and anti-bacterial too. Squeeze a few drops of breast milk into your baby’s nostrils and suck it out gently with a bulb syringe. Read more uses of breast milk here. 
  • Read more information on vomiting and diarrhea.
  • You can provide comfort to your baby by carrying him/her close to you, in a sling. Some mothers breastfeed their babies on the go like this. This will help reduce stress levels and will encourage your baby to drink more often. Read more about "baby wearing" here.
  • Keep your baby skin to skin as often as possible. Read the benefits of skin to skin contact here. 
Top of baby illnesses page

More benefits of Breast milk

Tracy Behr, CBC, CLD (CBI)
Reference: Breastfeeding councelor course through Child Birth International on the physiology of breastfeeding / Health problems in baby / Common childhood illnesses.

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