Breastfeeding and Infant Nutrition – Tips and Advices.

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In order to be able to give your baby the best possible start in its life, the World Health Organization (WHO) supports and promotes breastfeeding as unparalleled and recommended food source that optimally meets the needs of infants on nutritional, immunological and emotional level.

What do you have to know about the feeding of your newborn baby?

Nowadays, most of the women breastfeed their child as it’s somehow popular and modern and this is actually a good thing for moms to do, because the natural breast milk is the best food you can give to your baby. The World Health Organization recommends that breast milk is the only food and drink used for feeding a baby during the first six months of its life, actually, it’s advisable that moms continue to breastfeed their baby – while gradually introducing solid foods – for two (2) years or even more.

Breast milk is the best possible food that ensures and promotes growth and development of your baby. This special milk is produced naturally by each mother and is unique for her baby. As your baby grows, your milk changes to meet the needs of their rapidly changing and constantly growing bodies. Breast milk is the food that is most easily digested by your baby: it contains the right amount of balanced proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and is also very rich in minerals. It contains also some specific antibodies and other immune stimulating factors that help protect the body against infections and diseases – benefits that will last for a lifetime. Breastfeeding is very beneficial also for the mothers as it is for the babies.

In addition, this way  of feeding promotes the development of a special relationship between the mother and her baby as it is known that during breastfeeding the bodies of both the mother and the baby release specific hormones that help this maternal or motherly bond and feeling of attachment to appear and even get stronger later in life, you may call this “pure love”.

This feelings and the mother-baby connection is caused mainly by the hormone oxytocin, which main and best known function is to stimulate the lactation or release of the milk from the breasts. But this hormone have also many other effects on the body (and some of them not well researched yet) like: helping in arousal and achieving orgasm, release and transportation of reproductive cells, maintaining good eyesight thru keeping the retina in healthy state and many others.

It is also often recommended to give breastfed babies vitamin D as a supplement, that will prevent the occurrence of vitamin D deficiency. And such deficiency can lead to the appearance of a bone condition which is called rickets.

But you also have to keep in mind that when your baby starts to receive enough vitamin D from other food sources, it’s recommended to stop giving or adding that supplement to the baby’s food in order to prevent over supplementation with that vitamin.

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There are some contra-indications and basic considerations when breastfeeding. If you smoke, you may still breastfeed, but you have to consider to start smoking less or quit smoking entirely. It is also recommended not to consume alcohol. If you are suffering from an illness or are taking any prescription medications, it’s highly recommended to consult with your physician.

Breastfeeding is a natural process, but you and your baby may need time to learn to do it properly. In fact, up to 6 weeks may be needed in order to learn to breastfeed, so don’t stop  or interrupt it, because it is extremely important for your baby.

If you need help and support, you can easily find many people and specialized support groups, that are ready and willing to help you out, some of the possible people that can give you the needed help and support are:

–   local support groups for breastfeeding;
–   lactation consultants;
–   midwives or doctors;
–   public health facilities.
–  You can get good advices and help from your mother or other relatives and friends

They all have the experience to solve the problems that you may encounter and they really understand what you feel.

Whether you are breastfeeding or not, the feeding of your  baby is a great opportunity for both of you to connect and create a strong bond. The loving fathers and mothers can take full advantage of this special time, by holding the baby close against them, by talking softly and looking into its eyes.

What other liquid foods are suitable for feeding babies?

During the first six months, breast milk is the only solid or liquid food that your baby needs in order to promote maximum growth and development. Babies that are exclusively breastfed do not need any other liquid or food source (except for their vitamin D supplement as mentioned previously).

In case your doctor recommends you to give water to your infant when it’s  less than six months old, you must boil the water for at least two (2) minutes before giving it to your baby. It is not recommended to give babies herbal teas or other drinks.

When should I add solid foods?

When your sweet baby reaches six months, then it is ready for solid foods, although its main food source, at least at this stage is and should be breast milk or other specialized infant formula. These foods will help meet the nutritional needs of your ever growing baby. Most of the six months old babies can not meet their nutritional needs with breast milk alone, so they really need the additional solid or semisolid food source.

There are several ways to incorporate solid foods in your child’s nutrition. The first solid food given to the baby usually vary among cultures and families.

It is recommended to start with foods that contain iron, which babies need for different aspects of their development. Generally, it often begins with an infant cereal grain, such as rice or barley, and other iron rich foods. Meat, poultry, cooked egg yolk and cooked legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas) are also good sources of iron.

Include one new food at a time and wait 3 to 5 days before introducing another type of food to your baby. Thus, if there is an unwanted reaction, you can quickly identify the food that may be the cause.

You can start feeding your baby with healthy solid foods that your family usually consumes, provided they are non-processed foods, without salt,  sugar or spices added. You can also buy commercial baby food, but read labels carefully to make sure there is no added salt or sugar.

When your baby reaches the age of one year, its diet should include a variety of foods from all major food groups. This way you will ensure that your child is receiving all the nutrients its growing and developing organism needs and that you are giving your baby a head start in this crucial part of its life.

Author: Jessy Donston

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