Which is the best milk for babies? What is the right quantity of milk required for my baby? These are the questions that keep bothering a new or first time mom. Milk plays an important role in the kid’s nutrition. Whether it is an infant drinking breastmilk or a toddler eating cereal with milk or even a teenager drinking milkshakes or smoothies, milk is an essential part of the diet at various stages of growth and development. (Nutrition for kids?)
Why is milk important for babies?
Babies’ stomachs are small and they grow very fast. Everything that enters their mouth should contribute to their growth. The reason milk is so important for babies is that it provides fats, calories, minerals, vitamins and proteins which supports their growth. (Why are vitamins important?)
Which is the best milk for babies?
As parents, we always want our little ones to be consuming the healthiest option to allow for proper growth and development. And often think which milk is best for child. There is no specific milk which can be termed as the best milk for babies. For 0-6 months old babies, there are options of giving breastmilk, formula milk or a combination of both. Let us understand the benefits of different types of milk: (Baby’s growth and development?)
Breast Milk For BABIES:
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and to continue it for at least 12 months. Breastfeeding is a good choice for both babies and mothers. For babies, it can protect against infections and reduce the rates of future health problems like diabetes, obesity, and asthma. For mothers, breastfeeding helps the uterus to contract and bleeding to cease more quickly after delivery. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and also provides a great way for mothers to bond with their babies. You can either feed the baby directly or pump your milk and use a bottle to feed the baby. (How to increase Breastmilk?)
Advantages of Breastmilk:
- best source of nutrition for new baby
- proteins in breastmilk are easy to digest
- calcium and iron in breastmilk can be easily absorbed
- helps to build immunity & fight diseases
- contains probiotics and prebiotics
Formula Milk FOR BABIES:
Although breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies, sometimes mothers choose not to breastfeed due to lack of milk production, health problems, lactose intolerance in baby or shorter maternity leaves. In such cases, formula milk comes in handy as a substitute for breastmilk. Formula milk is fortified with essential nutrients required for the baby and is designed to be as effective as breastmilk. There are a variety of baby milk powders or formula milk available in the market. Parents get confused in deciding which is the best formula milk for baby. Some points to keep in mind while choosing the right formula milk for your baby are mentioned below:
- Consult your pediatrician
- Choose age-appropriate formula milk for your baby
- Read the ingredients before deciding which brand to buy
Cow’s Milk for TODDLERS:
As babies turn into toddlers, parents are worried about which milk is best for child at this age ? Cow’s milk, buffalo milk, goat’s milk? Cow’s milk (whole) naturally contains protein, calcium, potassium and vitamin B12 and is fortified with vitamin D. Best time to introduce cow’s milk to babies is after 12 months of age. And this is because it contains dense concentration of proteins and minerals which can be hard on your baby’s kidneys. You can give cow’s milk in the form of yogurt, cheese and kefir if the child doesn’t prefer the liquid form. Keep in mind that toddlers who are still on breastfeed or formula milk, don’t necessarily need cow’s milk, but they do need extra vitamin D from other food sources. After 2 years of age, you can check with your pediatrician and go for reduced fat milk.
Goat’s milk is high in proteins and contains minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphorous. But, it is not recommended for babies below 1 year. You can introduce goat’s milk to a toddler after consulting a pediatrician.
Benefits of goat’s milk:
- reduces constipation
- excellent source of vitamin B1, chlorine and vitamins
- reduces cancer and diabetes
- lowers cholesterol levels
Buffalo milk is considered heavy for digestion for babies as it contains higher fat content and is thicker in consistency as compared to cow’s milk. As with cow’s milk, buffalo milk also should be avoided till 1 year of age and should be introduced only in small quantities initially.
Non Dairy Alternatives:
If your child is lactose intolerant or vegan, you would be looking for non-dairy milk alternatives. Kids with lactose intolerance are not able to fully digest the sugar (lactose) in milk and this results in diarrhea, gas and bloating. In such cases, non dairy substitutes like soy milk, almond milk, rice milk and for below 6 months babies, lactose free formula milk are the options. After 6 months, you can give yogurt/curd as it has active bacterial cultures and less lactose as compared to milk.
How much milk should baby drink?
Knowing how much to feed your newborn baby is very difficult. Let your baby decide how much he/she wants to drink. You should not feed forcefully. Consult your doctor if required. Guide to feeding newborns:
|AGE||Amount per FEEd||FEedINg frequency|
|Newborn||45-90ml||Every 2-3 hours|
|1 month||120ml||Every 3-4 hours|
|2 months||120-150ml||Every 3-4 hours|
|4 months||120-180ml||Every 3-4 hours|
|6 months||180-230ml||Every 3-4 hours|
After six months, solids are introduced to babies and hence the quantity of milk is gradually reduced and the process of weaning starts (How to introduce solids to babies?). American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends 2 cups of milk for younger kids and 3 cups of milk for older kids. (How to wean off baby?)
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