A lot has been said about the wonders that breastfeeding does to a baby’s health. You probably already know that you need to breastfeed your baby for their growth, development and good health. Let us answer your question that whether it’s enough for your little one.
Why Breast Milk?
Breast milk is believed to have about 200 constituents that are essential for an infant’s health and growth. It contains whey and casein proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and fats that are essential for healthy development. Choline, one such vitamin present in breast milk is crucial for the baby’s brain development, and this could be the reason why breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in children.
Breast milk has optimum levels of protein and the quality and quantity of protein is suited to your baby’s needs. Breast milk has a higher whey than casein content, making it gentle on the baby’s immature digestive system. According to WHO and NCBI, breast milk also contains hormones that influence babies’ metabolism and food intake.
Is It Enough?
Until the age of six months, you should exclusively breastfeed your baby. Breast milk is tummy friendly, and has the right quality and quantity of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and is able to meet his changing energy and nutrient needs. The composition of breast milk changes not only during a single feed but also over the period of lactation. This is meant to satisfy the infant’s nutritional needs. Breast milk is also a source of iron, retinol, vitamins E, C and D, and unsaturated fats that are essential for growing infants. The nutrients in breast milk are meant to satisfy their nutrient needs without putting pressure on their organs. It also has water content that satisfies your baby’s hydration needs and avoids him from being dehydrated.
How To Know If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk
Some signs to look out for to ensure that your baby is having enough breast milk are:
- He/She should be feeding 8 to 10 times or every 2 to 3 hours
- He latches on, and swallows milk properly
- After 5 days from birth, he should have at least 6 wet nappies a day
- Passing soft stool
- Steady weight gain and an increase in length and head circumference
- Alertness while awake
The best milk for your baby
Breast milk is the best milk for your baby and ideally, should not be replaced with anything else, as the nutrient composition in breast milk cannot be found elsewhere. Cow’s milk has a lower content of iron, vitamins and essential fatty acids for the baby, and is therefore inadequate for an infant’s growing nutritional needs.
Cow’s milk contains more protein and this can strain an infant’s kidneys. The protein, fat and calcium in cow’s milk is also more difficult for the infant to digest and absorb. Breast milk, on the other hand, has a lower protein content, and provides the nutrients in an easily absorbed and tummy-friendly form. You should thus introduce cow’s milk only after your baby is at least 1 year old.
Your baby will be in the best hands if you are able to breastfeed him until the age of 2 years or more. If you are unable to produce enough for your baby, consult a paediatrician to find suitable alternatives that are tummy friendly and thus the right milk for your growing baby.
Disclaimer: 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.