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Jewish World Review
On Nutrition: The optimal diet for a new baby
I now know why grandparents claim to have the most beautiful grandchildren in the world. It is absolutely true. Little Frances Ann is just one week old and has already claimed my heart.
Like all newborns, Frances has some important basic needs. She needs love and nourishment and restful sleep. She needs to be clean and warm and dry. And she needs to be held and rocked often by her mom and dad and grandparents. I'm happy to report she's doing great on all these fronts.
Frances is thriving on her mommy's milk. After a few fits and starts (she wasn't too happy the night after her mom ate some onions for dinner) she seems to be on track with regular feedings every two to four hours.
Baby gear has changed since I was a new mom. (We didn't have all-terrain strollers, for example.) But when it comes to nutrition, Tom and Stephanie can be assured that some basic recommendations don't change.
Just this year the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirmed its stance that "breastfeeding is a natural and beneficial source of nutrition and provides the healthiest start for infants."
And the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently confirmed that "exclusive breastfeeding provides optimal nutrition and health protection for the first 6 months of life and breastfeeding with complementary foods from 6 months until at least 12 months of age is the ideal feeding pattern for infants."
"Exclusive" breastfeeding means little Frances can receive all her nutritional needs from breastfeeding for her first six months of life with the exception of vitamin D. (Nutrition experts recommend all breastfed infants receive 400 IU of vitamin D within a few days of life and throughout childhood.) Around 6 months of age, she will be ready for additional foods to "complement" her nursing schedule.
Why is mom's milk so special? Frances gets the benefit of milk that is uniquely tailored to meet her nutritional needs. It is always ready at just the right temperature when she is hungry. And it stays safe and sterile in convenient containers her mom can take anywhere.
What beautiful little pursed lips Frances has! And nursing helps promote the proper alignment of her jaw and teeth as she grows, say child development experts.
As Frances grows and develops, the composition of her mom's milk will change to meet her needs … perfectly. And breast milk contains substances that help protect her from ear infections, tummy upsets and other childhood maladies. Research also shows that breastfed babies are less likely to be overweight or to have high blood pressure when they grow up.
Mommies benefit from breastfeeding as well. Stephanie is burning about 500 additional calories each day to produce milk for her infant. That can help her return to her pre-pregnancy weight. And good evidence now shows that moms who breastfeed their offspring lower their risk for certain diseases such as breast cancer and type 2 diabetes.
It may be a while before Frances learns to appreciate the hot chile food her dad likes. But it's nice to know she is getting optimal nutrition from her mom's milk during this time of rapid growth and development. I'm sure that makes her even more beautiful!
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Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.
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