It's often said that breastfeeding is the best thing for babies because it helps newborns fight infections and grow stronger, but it turns out that the claims that it makes your baby smarter is not entirely accurate.
In a study done by the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers looked into long-term cognitive development and behavior to see how breastfeeding would impact it. 7,478 Irish children and their parents participated over five years to see how the children developed.
They were evaluated at three and five to see how their vocabulary and problem-solving skills were advancing. The researchers found that children who had been breastfed were less hyperactive and better at problem solving at age three, but by the time the children were five all the differences were minimal.
One of the main issues with a lot of breastfeeding studies is that they don't consider education, income and other socio-economic factors that may influence the children. So it's usually hard to say whether it is the milk that is improving the brains or whether it is the educated parents. This study claims to have accounted for that and found the differences in cognitive development negligible.
There are many other benefits to breastfeeding, outside of cognitive development, so it isn't as though the researchers are discounting it completely. They are mostly just highlighting the need to build a strong relationship with your child whether or not you are breastfeeding.
Speak to your doctor about the benefits and decide for yourself what is best for your and your baby.