A newborn’s digestive tract is at its most vulnerable stage during the first 6 months which is why any small disturbance results in colic and gas. Right from the birth, there are various changes that your little one’s tummy goes through and interestingly enough, your breastmilk changes accordingly to suit your baby’s needs.
During pregnancy, your baby would have received all the required nutrition through the placenta. After birth, this scene changes abruptly and it will take some time for your little one’s immature digestive system to get used to the outside world.
Development of your baby’s tummy
At birth, the size of your baby’s stomach is small and can hold only small quantity of breastmilk at a time. Because of such small size, your baby will need frequent feedings. During the first 24 hours, your breasts will produce colostrum which is nutrient-rich milk with a high concentration of antibodies that will help clear out your baby’s intestine. It also has enough fat to meet the caloric needs of your baby.
Even as the stomach grows in size, it is not yet fully functional and is very vulnerable to infections. This is because of the underdevelopment of the protective layer of mucus that is essential to protect the gastrointestinal tract from contaminants. A newborn can digest few carbohydrates, proteins and fat but because the pancreas is not yet developed, the amount of digestive enzymes produced is very low when compared with an adult or even an older child. In addition to this, the oesophagal valve which is responsible for preventing the entry of food from the stomach, back to food pipe is also not yet developed in babies. This explains why your baby might spit up very frequently. So, you need to keep a watchful eye on your baby and her feeding habits.
Why is breast milk ideal for newborns?
For the first 6 months, breast milk is really important as it is a unique combination of proteins, fats and enzymes that are not only easily digestible by your little one but they also aid in the development of the baby’s intestinal wall and digestive tract. The intestinal growth factors present in breast milk will help in the development of beneficial bacteria in the baby’s intestines. The proteins present in breastmilk also boost the immune system of babies.
Babies absorb all the nutrition present in breastmilk. As the digestive system is just maturing, certain gastrointestinal problems are expected. This doesn’t mean that your baby is not getting enough nutrition or is having troubles digesting breast milk. For the first half of the first year, your baby doesn’t need anything else other than breastmilk (not even water) to stay healthy and happy.
The gut of the baby has a long-lasting impact on her health and happiness for years to come. It will keep away chronic illnesses, inflammatory diseases, allergies and even obesity. The composition of breast milk is such that it helps maintain a healthy community of microbes in your little one’s gut.
Cow’s milk is not good for your baby’s tummy. It contains a high sodium content and very low iron content when compared to breast milk. Further, the proteins present in it aren’t easily digestible. So, keep your little one’s delicate little tummy fit as a fiddle by breastfeeding her and tending to her needs.
Note- This blog has been reviewed by Tinystep Medical Advisory Board
All the information provided in the blog is for reference purposes only. Please do not consider this as a medical advice. Start Healthy Stay Healthy programme is for educational purposes only, in partnership with doctors. Always consult a doctor if you have any questions related to your own health or the health of your child.