What’s the Best Food for Babies?

Wahoo! There is a product that claims to provide “the right nutrients at the right time for your baby’s optimal brain growth.” That sounds like human breast milk. Annoyingly, this advertisement is a colorful and enthusiastic promotion for a specific baby food.

Making such a claim requires answers to some questions. Let’s consider some important details and the big picture.

First: providing the right nutrients at the right time.
Would you automatically get a new shipment of food to boost the immune system (the right nutrients at the right time) when the baby has a cold? Or when it’s afternoon and the baby needs a different level of fat? Your body adapts to exactly what your baby needs as your baby grows from infancy to toddlerhood. Even though you may not notice, it’s happening.*

Second: the ad shows this product in pouches with a plastic cap.
It does not mention the producer being responsible for this trash. Where are all those pieces going to end up and who is paying for that clean up? Breastfeeding does not require disposable pouches with little plastic caps. That means less trash in your house and less trash on the planet.

Third: how much does this product cost?
You can spend that money on wholesome food and you’ll be feeding at least two for the price of one. In fact, everyone who is eating with you is benefitting from good food. This is an investment in your health as well.

And speaking of investing in your health, here’s another fact. Lactation, the physical process of making milk, is good for a mother’s health. Some of the benefits are: reduced rates of diabetes and age-related macular degeneration and better bone density.

Babies begin eating other foods when they are about six months old. Human breast milk is still the most nutritious, beneficial food. You are doing fine with breast milk and whatever complementary foods your child likes. I agree it’s important to “get the nutrients that matter into what we feed our little ones…. It would make a lifelong difference for kids everywhere. “  A most excellent food for human babies is human breast milk.

I know there are problems and obstacles in providing breast milk to babies. That is why I became an IBCLC Lactation Consultant and that is why I support parents in the goodness of what they can do. When we support breastfeeding, we support every baby’s health, the lactating person’s long-term health and we support the health of the Earth. Those are the important details and the big picture to keep in mind.

* From ‘The Biological Specificity of Breastmilk’  (Chapter 4)
Breastfeeding and Human Lactation/Fifth Edition.
Karen Wambach and Jan Riordan.
Jones and Bartlett Learning

Factors that influence milk composition include stage of lactation, gestation age of the infant, stage (beginning or end) Of the feeding, frequency of the baby’s demand for milk, and degree of fullness or emptiness of the breasts.” Pg. 122

“Human milk is rich in nutrient proteins, nonprotein nitrogen compounds, lipids, oligosaccharides, vitamins, and certain minerals. In addition, it contains hormones, enzymes, growth factors, and many types of protective agents. “ Pg. 123

• Resources for Donor Human Milk
Human Milk Banking Association of North America https://www.hmbana.org/
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. https://milkbankne.org/

• Photo Credit: Katherine Lew