Breastmilk’s Optimal Nutrition
Breastfeeding is the best way to nourish babies because breastmilk contains the right amounts of important nutrients, which are easily digested, absorbed, and used by a baby’s body for optimal growth and development.
At Childbirth Graphics, we specialize in creating unique breastfeeding education resources that explain why breastfeeding is best for babies and how to breastfeed successfully and with confidence.
In recognition of August as National Breastfeeding Month and August 1–7 as World Breastfeeding Week, here is a look at some of the nutrients in breastmilk and some of the reasons why each nutrient is important for a baby’s growth and development. Also, take a look at just a few of our many popular breastfeeding education resources, which are the perfect teaching tools to promote and encourage breastfeeding among new and expectant mothers.
Fat is a valuable source of energy that is essential for a baby’s growth. The omega-3 fatty acid DHA and the omega-6 fatty acid ARA are important for brain and nervous system development as well as retinal function.
Carbohydrates, particularly lactose, are a primary source of energy for babies. Lactose is also important because it improves the absorption of vitamins and minerals, helps fight disease, and encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in the stomach.
activity to teach important breastfeeding concepts.
Proteins help protect babies against infection. Other protein functions include building, maintaining, and repairing tissue.
Water regulates body temperature, transports nutrients throughout a baby’s body, and is essential for normal kidney function.
features models of colostrum, foremilk, and hindmilk.
- Calcium is essential for bone and tooth development, blood clotting, and healthy nerves and muscles.
- Iron prevents anemia, is important for proper growth and formation of healthy blood cells, and is a vital component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in red blood cells.
- Sodium maintains water balance in a baby’s body, regulates blood volume, and ensures proper functioning of cell membranes and other body tissues.
- Zinc is involved in most of a baby’s metabolic processes and is essential for a healthy immune system. It assists in wound healing, blood formation, and taste perception.
demonstrate proper and improper latch, lip flange, and more.
- Vitamin A is essential for proper vision, growth and development, and healthy immune and reproductive systems. It also helps form and maintain healthy skin and hair.
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin) helps the nervous system function and helps the body release energy and carbohydrates.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacin) help a baby’s body release energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) helps a baby’s body use protein to build tissue and aids in the metabolism of fat.
- Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) is important for the nervous system and helps form healthy blood cells.
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is vital to a baby’s health for several reasons, such as forming collagen, a protein that gives structure to bones, cartilage, muscle, blood vessels, and other connective tissue; helping maintain capillaries, bones, and teeth; healing wounds; and resisting infections.
- Vitamin E prevents breakdown of tissues.
- Folate is essential for cell division, the growth and development of healthy blood cells, and the formation of genetic material within every cell in a baby’s body.
an engaging, comprehensive breatfeeding teaching tool.
Points to Remember
Breastmilk is the only food babies needs for the first 6 months of life. It is recommended that babies be breastfed at least until they are 12 months old. Even if babies are breastfed for only a short time, they can still receive important health benefits.
If you are breastfeeding your baby, follow the instructions of your baby’s healthcare professional about vitamin D and iron supplementation.
If you have questions about breastfeeding your baby, talk to your healthcare professional.
To discover our breastfeeding education materials, visit our Breastfeeding Education Section. Childbirth Graphics’ innovative and engaging breastfeeding models, displays, charts, booklets, pamphlets, and guides are all designed with the goal of promoting and encouraging breastfeeding to help ensure that mothers have the knowledge they need for successful breastfeeding.
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