Feeding Your Baby during the First Weeks of Life
Breast milk or formula? Here are the things you should know about feeding your baby during their first few weeks of life.
Feeding your baby during the first weeks of life is a very delicate subject that requires a great deal of attention. You’ll find out about the main aspects of this topic below.
We all know that breast milk is the best food for babies in their first weeks of life. It’s just as important, if not more so, than the mother’s nutrition during pregnancy, which also has its consequences on the health of the future baby.
But why is breast milk so beneficial? There are many different reasons. Mainly, it provides all the nutrients that the baby needs to grow healthily.
Being composed of water, proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, mineral salts and fats, breast milk contains exactly what the baby needs for proper nutrition.
In addition, breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development, protects the baby from infectious and chronic diseases and generates the bond of attachment between baby and mother. This is just as important for their psychological development.
According to UNICEF, breast milk is the first vaccine that babies receive. It can prolong their life for several years, in addition to preventing future conditions such as obesity.
The National Federation of Neonatology of Mexico recommends that human milk be the exclusive form of nutrition during the first six months of life.
“Breast milk provides babies with the nutrients they need for their development and growth.”
If the mother produces more milk than the baby consumes, or if for some reason it’s not possible for you to breastfeed at some point, a breast pump may be a solution to this problem.
The Mother’s Diet while Breastfeeding
While the baby is consuming breast milk, it is important that the mother avoids certain foods, drinks and habits that can be harmful to the health of the infant. Some of them are:
- Alcoholic drinks.
- Stimulant drinks (coffee or energy).
- Some vegetables that can modify the taste of milk (cauliflower, cabbage, artichokes, asparagus, cucumber, peppers, etc).
- Medications (except those prescribed by the doctor).
Feeding Your Baby in the First Few Weeks without Breast Milk
There are many different reasons why a mother may not be able to breastfeed her baby with breast milk, such as suffering from a disease, nutrition problems, taking medications or incompatibilities of working hours. Therefore, it’s necessary for the baby to get nutrients through another source.
The best option for these cases is bottle feeding with formula. There are many benefits of formula milk, including the following:
- Satisfying the baby’s food needs
- Providing time flexibility to the mother
- Including both parents in raising the baby, as well as grandparents, uncles, siblings, and other relatives.
- Allowing you to more precisely control the quantity of milk you give the baby.
Although it may sound redundant, formula milk isn’t comparable to breast milk as an option for feeding your baby during the first weeks of life.
Some points to keep in mind about formula:
- Follow the instructions on the package.
- Get rid of the remaining milk left in the bottle after an hour has passed.
- Don’t heat the milk in the microwave. You can heat it under a jet of warm water.
Can Breast Milk and Formula Be Combined?
Technically, it is possible. However, specialists recommend not placing both in the same bottle. Instead, offer them to the infant at different times.
In addition, there is an obvious negative effect: formula milk is made to provide the baby with a specific amount of calories and nutrients in a specific volume of liquid.
If you dilute concentrated formula milk directly in breast milk, the concentration of nutrients in the milk will be excessive.
Another Future Option: Breast Milk Powder
Scientists have been working on finding alternatives to the breastfeeding process. The creation of breast milk banks was ruled out quite early, given that the pasteurization process destroys part of the proteins and fats, both of which are essential for feeding the baby during the first weeks of life.
However, at the University of Guadalajara, researchers found an option that seems incredible: breast milk powder!
How did they do it? They extracted excess water from the milk of human origin exposing it to high temperatures. They managed to dehydrate it and transform it into dust, omitting the process of extracting the milk and pasteurizing it. This way, it conserves almost all of its nutrients.
In any case, it’s still in the process of patenting. As much as it is a revolutionary solution that would allow us to expand healthy eating to the most needy places in the world, we still have to wait to see its benefits.