During the first 1,000 days of life, the foundations are laid for the child’s growth and development, which support his or her health throughout life. This period begins on the first day of pregnancy and lasts until the baby is about two years old. The nutrition that your baby receives during this time is of crucial importance. Breast milk is the best food for babies, with a number of health, immunity, growth, and development benefits.
What is breast milk rich in, and why is it so important to choose to breastfeed?
It is a unique source of easily digestible nutrition as well as balanced proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients for babies’ good growth and development. Breast milk contains hundreds of invaluable components (most likely many more than are currently known, as new ingredients are found in every study):
- White blood cells and many antibodies;
- More than 600 kinds of probiotics;
- Hormones and growth factors;
- Antibacterial properties;
- Oligosaccharides ;
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential for the development of the brain, vitreous body, nervous system, and other organs;
In addition, breastfeeding is not only about food but also an essential part of the safety, attachment, and emotional connection of mom and baby.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding for moms?
Breastfeeding benefits the baby and is also quite crucial for the mother. Throughout the whole period of breastfeeding, a strong physical and emotional bond is built between mother and baby, and a so-called attachment is formed.
During breastfeeding, a powerful non-verbal connection is established, which reduces the risk of postpartum depression. It is essential to increase tactile and eye contact as well as communication during lactation.
Breast stimulation allows the baby to produce antibodies in large quantities upon request, protecting him or her from viruses and bacteria.
By increasing energy expenditure, breastfeeding helps the body recover and also helps it regain its pre-pregnancy shape.
In addition, breastfeeding is convenient! Night feedings are quicker and easier, allowing mom to get a better night’s sleep. Travels and outings are easier and simpler to manage because the best food for the baby is always with you and ready to eat. It is worth mentioning that financial savings can also be a significant factor for families of all incomes.
The secrets of mixed feeding
Breast milk is undoubtedly the best product for a baby’s nutrition. It has everything a baby needs for normal development and protection against various infections. But it is not always possible for a mother to provide breastfeeding. The reason for this can be either health problems or a lack of milk. In such a situation, pediatricians advise resorting to a partial (mixed feeding) or complete transition to formula ( bottle-feeding).
If the pediatrician recommends mixed feeding, you face two critical tasks: keeping your lactation as long as possible and choosing the best baby formula to feed your little one.
5 rules from baby-feeding experts to help caring moms do the right thing:
- Introduce the necessary amount of formula gradually since the baby’s gastrointestinal tract is still immature.
- At the beginning of feeding, attach the baby to the breast ( breast milk precedes formula).
- Feed from a spoon, not a bottle, if the amount of formula is small. This way, you will build the skills to use cutlery from an early age.
- Weigh your baby regularly to assess weight gain and nutritional adequacy (your pediatrician can help you assess weight gain).
When is formula feeding necessary?
Formula feeding is necessary when the mother does not have enough or no milk. The little body is still just beginning its development and badly needs a whole set of “building blocks.” Pureed food or bay cereals are not yet digested by the baby and will not replace all the missing vitamins. Therefore, in such cases, feed the baby with milk formulas that can make up for the lack of breast milk.
The infant should also be switched to formula feeding in other cases:
- The mother is taking medication;
- The mother has been diagnosed with an infectious disease;
- Psychological disorders of the mother;
- The baby has a metabolic disorder.
In other cases, new parents switch to formula infant feeding for personal reasons. Sometimes it is the newborn’s low weight or poor appetite, as well as the mother’s going to work or the baby’s unwillingness to be fed with breast milk.
Infant formula for bottle-feeding
Infant formula can be dry or liquid. Powdered formulas have a longer shelf life than liquid ones and are less expensive. The liquid formula is ready-to-feed and eliminates the need to calculate the proportions.
The distinguishing feature of the formula is the main ingredient substitute. It can be whey or casein. Breast milk is enriched with whey and casein proteins, so the baby receives everything he or she needs to develop fully. Modern formulas offer compositions in which only one type of protein predominates, so doctors recommend opting for those with an equal ratio of protein components.
Milk formula can be standard or special. Standard – multipurpose and used for any baby in the first year of life. Special – prescribed for newborns born prematurely, with allergies, metabolic problems, or other disorders. This kind of feeding is a delicate process, which should be started as prescribed by your doctor, following the rules, following your pediatrician’s recommendations, and choosing formula from reliable quality brands. Only in this way will the baby receive everything he or she needs to be fully developed, feeling nourished and satisfied.