New moms want to make sure that their babies are getting the nutrients they need to grow and develop. In the first six months, breast milk has all the essential nutrients covered. As a nursing mom, you do not have to worry about your newborn baby, not getting enough nutrition at least until baby starts on solids.
In the first year, babies will experience a growth spurt that will see them grow three times their weight. When babies switch from breast milk to solid food, it can be quite daunting because it means moms have to keep track of what their babies eat to ensure that they are getting the nutrition they need to thrive.
As you introduce more types of food to your baby’s diet, it is essential to know what nutrients babies need so that the food choices will be nourishing and nutrition to aid in the babies’ growth and development.
Here are the ten essential nutrients babies need to stay healthy:
Babies need calcium because it helps build strong bones and teeth. They will get calcium from breast milk or infant formula. Calcium-rich foods from non-dairy sources include green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach.
Folate plays a role in the brain development of babies. Feed baby a wide variety of foods, including spinach, asparagus, eggs, nuts, beans, and fruits.
Iron helps in building blood cells and supports brain growth. Bottle-fed babies can get enough iron from iron-fortified infant formula. Breast-fed babies need to get iron from other sources such as meat, egg yolks, peas, and fortified baby cereals.
Protein is necessary for the baby’s growth because it serves as a transporter of other nutrients. It also helps in repairing and maintaining the body. Protein-rich solid foods include mashed beans, egg yolks, and chopped meats and vegetables.
Zinc is a vital micronutrient for cell growth and repair. It also helps prevent diarrhoea and gastrointestinal infections. Foods rich in zinc include red meat, potatoes, beans, whole grain cereals.
Carbohydrates provide energy to fuel a baby’s growth. Great sources of complex carbohydrates are baby cereal pasta, brown rice, lentils, beans, and peas.
Vitamins promote healthy brain and nerve development as well as boost the immune system.
Vitamin A – helps in keeping the eyes, skin, and hair healthy.
Vitamin B1 & B2 – Helps in turning food into energy
Vitamin C – Helps protect against infections and supports bone and muscle development.
Vitamin D – Aids in the absorption of calcium to keep bones and teeth healthy
Vitamin E – helps strengthen the immune system and protects
Vitamin K – helps in blood clotting to prevent severe bleeding
Fatty Acids (ARA and DHA)
Fatty acids are essential in the development of the size and function of the brain. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tofu, grass-fed meat, and fortified yoghurt and cereals.
Nucleotides help boost the immune system and assist in the development of digestive organs. The baby would get these nutrients from animal proteins such as beef, chicken, and fish.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut while probiotics help protect against harmful bacteria that cause infection. Bananas, oats, and asparagus are good sources of prebiotics, whereas you can find probiotics in yoghurt and milk drinks.
Breastfeeding moms must understand that what they eat and drink can affect the quality of their breast milk. To ensure that babies are getting the essential nutrients from breast milk, moms must make healthy choices in their diet. The following tips will guide you on which foods to eat and which ones to avoid as well as on how to maintain your milk production.
Nursing moms need an extra 300 to 500 calories every day to make sure they get the extra energy they need for breastfeeding. Depending on weight, height, and physical activity, total calorie intake should be between 2200 and 2500 per day.
Breastfeeding moms should add vegetables, nuts, fish (salmon), legumes, and beans to their diet
Breastfeeding moms should also include food rich in iron, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids to their diet as it passes through in breast milk and enhances the baby’s brain growth.
Vegetarian moms need extra vitamin B12 to prevent anaemia and damage to their nervous system.
If the mom has a history of food allergies, she should avoid eating those foods. Otherwise, moms can eat what they want to eat with healthy choices preferred. Withholding food while breastfeeding may predispose the baby to a food allergy when they finally encounter that food.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, spices, artificial sweeteners, and fish high in methylmercury because they can pass into breast milk.
Lactating moms should eat foods that help boost milk production. Recommended foods that help lactation include oatmeal, fenugreek seeds, garlic, fennel seeds, eggs, tofu, lean meat, spinach, kale, and sesame seeds.
Lactation cookies and lactation trail mix that are rich in iron, calcium, and potassium are also beneficial in boosting milk supply.
Clogged Milk Ducts
Causes of blocked milk ducts:
- Breast not thoroughly drained every nursing session
- Change in feeding pattern
- Poor latch
- Skipped breastfeeding session
Typically, clogged ducts resolve within 1 to 2 days without treatment. If it remains clogged, it can lead to breast inflammation called mastitis.
Treatment and suggested home remedies
- Apply warm compress on the affected breast for 20 minutes
- During a shower, stand under the stream of warm water letting the water flow onto the breasts
- Massaging the clog and pushing it down toward the nipple. Do not pinch the clog.
- Soak the breasts in a warm salt bath (Epsom) for 10 minutes.
Clogged milk ducts may also be due to a breast condition called mammary duct ectasia wherein the breast widens, and the walls thicken. If this is the case, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
In the first few weeks of the baby’s life, breastfeeding must be on-demand, which means between 8 to 12 times per day. However, not all moms can feed on demand, so the next best option is to use a breast pump. It helps in maintaining a sufficient supply of milk when nursing moms follow a breast pumping schedule. Here are some tips to get started.
Start pumping in the morning. Typically, nursing moms get more milk in the early morning. A typical pumping session is between breastfeeding, at least an hour before breastfeeding.
If your baby demands milk after breast pumping, do breastfeed your baby.
For moms who are exclusively breast pumping, it is common to pump 8 to 10 times in 24 hours.
New moms may feel that they are not doing enough or not doing things right when it comes to breastfeeding. The truth is that some things happen naturally, and all they need to do is to make sure that they are getting enough nutrients from healthy food as they would pass them on to their baby through breastfeeding. And as babies advance to taking solid foods, moms have to ensure that the food their babies eat has the same high-quality nutrition found in breast milk. Knowing the essential nutrients is a step in the right direction.