Infancy is a time that lays the foundation for a healthy future. And during this period of rapid development, nutrition is a vital component that supports healthy growth and all-round development at every stage. Fortunately, in the first six months, breast milk takes care of all of your child’s nutritional needs:
Here’s how breast milk fulfills your baby’s every need during the first six months:
* Supports Healthy Growth
Proteins are building blocks of the body and help ensure healthy growth. Breast milk has two main proteins - whey and casein. Casein is tough on a baby’s immature digestive system. Breast milk has higher whey than casein content. Whey protein is gentle on your baby’s tummy, and in appropriate quantities, as found in breast milk, it helps ensure healthy weight gain and supports physical growth. With the appropriate quantity and quality of proteins, breast milk supports healthy growth. The proteins in breast milk are already partially broken down (partially hydrolzed proteins), making them easier to digest for the baby.
* Essential Fatty Acids
The fats in breast milk are also important for cell growth and organ development. DHA and ARA, essential fatty acids in breast milk, are extremely important to support early brain growth and cognitive development. They make up around 25% of the fat content in breast milk.
Micronutrients are needed in small quantities, but are essential to ensure healthy functioning of the organs, and help with growth of tissues, bones, and immune system.
- Iron and Vitamin C: Breast milk fulfills your baby’s iron needs, and contains Vitamin C which aids iron absorption. Vitamin C also helps the body fight infections.
- Minerals like selenium and iodine aid cognitive development, and zinc and copper help immunity.
- Vitamin D and Calcium: Vitamin D helps the body absorb Calcium for healthy bones and teeth.
Breast milk contains free water, which is reflected in the way composition changes during a feed. Foremilk at the beginning of the feed is mostly water, whereas hindmilk, towards the end of the feed, has higher fat content to fulfill your child’s hunger and nutrient requirements. This is why you don’t even need to give your baby water in the first six months.
Colostrums, the milk produced by the body in the first few days after your baby is born, contains immunizing factors which help protect your baby against infections and strengthen immunity.
Breast milk is thus the food that meets each of your infant’s needs in the early months. During the first 6 months, exclusive breastfeeding can make a considerable impact on your child’s health, because along with the nutrients for growth, breast milk ensures cognitive development too, laying the foundation for a healthy and happy future.
Disclaimer- All the information provided 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.