Breast milk-best food for babies

Although children need additional foods after the first four months of life, breast milk is still an important source of energy and protein, and other nutrients such as vitamin A, which protect babies against diseases during their second year of life. From birth to about four months, breast milk is the only food and drink a baby needs. It is the best food a child will ever have. All substitutes, including cow’s milk, infant formula, milk powder solutions and cereal gruels, are inferior and may affect the child’s health.

Although children need additional foods after the first four months of life, breast milk is still an important source of energy and protein, and other nutrients such as vitamin A, which protect babies against diseases during their second year of life.

From birth to about four months, breast milk is the only food and drink a baby needs. It is the best food a child will ever have. All substitutes, including cow’s milk, infant formula, milk powder solutions and cereal gruels, are inferior and may affect the child’s health.

Even during hot dry climates, breast milk contains sufficient water for a young baby. Additional water or sugary drinks are not needed to quench a baby’s thirst.

If a suckling baby is given a lot of water or other drinks made with water, then the risk of getting diarrhea and other illnesses is increased.

After four months, weaning begins and other foods and drinks are included in an infant’s diet. If monthly weighing shows that a child less than four months is not growing well, then the child may need more frequent breastfeeding.

If the child is already being breastfed frequently, then the lack of weight gain implies that the child may have an illness and should be taken to a doctor.

It is important to mention that babies fed on breast milk have fewer illnesses and less malnutrition problems than babies who are bottle fed on other food supplements.

On the contrary, bottle feeding is a special threat to a baby’s health because parents may not be able to afford sufficient milk-powder, and even though they resort to using clean water to mix the milk, the chances are high that they may forget to sterilize a bottles teats and feeding bottles.

Bottle-feeding can cause illness such as diarrhea unless the water is boiled and the bottle and teats are sterilized in boiling water before each feed.

The more often a child is ill, the more likely it is that he or she will become malnourished. That is why in a community without clean drinking water, a bottle-fed baby is more likely to die of diarrhea than a baby fed exclusively on breast milk. 

Sometimes mothers lack confidence in their own ability to breastfeed. They need the encouragement and practical support from fathers, health workers, relatives and friends as well.

Additionally, breast milk is a newborn baby’s first immunization. It helps to protect the baby against diarrhea, coughs and colds, and other common illnesses by increasing their immunity. Protection is highest when breast milk alone is given to infants during the first four months of their lives.

Cow’s milk, infant formulas, milk-powder solutions, maize gruel and other infant foods do not give babies any special protection against diarrhea, coughs and colds and other diseases.

The best food for a baby who cannot be breast fed, is milk squeezed from the mother’s breast. It should be given in a cup that has been thoroughly cleaned.

Cups are safer than bottles and teats because they are easier to keep clean.

If non-human milk has to be used, it should be given from a clean cup rather than a bottle. Milk powder solutions should be prepared using water that has been boiled and then cooled.

Cow’s milk, infant formula, or milk- powder solutions can cause poor growth if too much water is added in order to make them go further.

Cow’s milk and milk powder solutions go bad if left to stand at room temperature for a few hours. Breast milk can be stored for at least eight hours at room temperature without going bad.

Although children need additional foods after the first four months of life, breast milk is still an important source of energy and protein, and other nutrients such as vitamin A, which protect babies against diseases during their second year of life.

Babies get ill frequently as they learn to crawl, walk and play. A child who is ill needs breast milk for treatment. It provides a nutritious, easily digestible food when babies lose their appetite for other foods.

Between the ages of one and two years, a baby benefits from breast milk as well as orthr nutritious foods. Mothers should breastfeed their children as part of every meal, between meals, and whenever the child feels hungry.

When babies progress into the weaning stage, mothers during their 2nd year, breastfeeding becomes an addition to their daily meals and not a substitute for normal meals.

Breastfeeding also comforts babies when they are frightened, hurt, angry and tearful.

josephmunich06@yahoo.co.uk

Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper


You want to chat directly with us? Send us a message on WhatsApp at +250 788 310 999    

 

Follow The New Times on Google News