Babies grow very quickly during the first year of life. It is particularly important, therefore, that they get good nutrition during this period. As a parent, you’ll need to provide your child with healthful and complete nutrition. Today we cover brief information about breast feeding and benefits of breast feeding.
Throughout history, children have been breast-fed. But during the twentieth century, the number of people breast-feeding declined in many places, including North America. Luckily, breast-feeding has become more popular again. There are a number of breast-feeding organizations that offer free help and advice. Ask your doctor, midwife, childbirth educator, or local health department, or check the Yellow Pages for information.
MOTHER’S MILK: NUTRITION FOR INFANTS
Mother’s milk alone is the best nutrition during the first 6 months of life, and may continue to be best for 3 months beyond that. Depending on your climate and your doctor, you may be told to supplement your breast milk with vitamin D, often in the form of cod-liver oil. Mother’s milk contains enough of all the other vitamins.
The traditional recommendations about iron are being debated. As long as the baby is only receiving mother’s milk, iron supplements are probably unnecessary. This applies to babies who were healthy and of normal birth weight. When you start giving your baby other foods (mixed nutrition), the amount of breast milk will start to decline, so the baby will receive less iron from breast milk. In addition, iron in other foods is not very well absorbed, so any cereals or other foods should be enriched with iron.
The nutrients in your milk are geared to the growth pattern of your infant. To accommodate rapid development of the brain, but slow growth of muscles and bones, mother’s milk provides a lot of carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fats, but fewer proteins and minerals. But nutritional quantities are only one side of the coin. It’s just as important that what babies eat be easily digested and absorbed. Iron is absorbed over 20 times more easily from mother’s milk than from formula. So, mother’s milk gives children good nutrition and, at the same time, leaves little extra stuff for intestinal bacteria to feed on.
Mother’s milk contains a lot of water, so it looks bluish and “thin,” sort of like skim milk. The water protects the baby against dehydration. In hot climates and during fever, a baby’s kidneys put less water out into the urine. Under those physical “stresses,” it’s a great advantage that mother’s milk doesn’t burden the baby with unnecessary amounts of salt and proteins. [Read more…] about Breast Feeding and Bottle Feeding