Breast Feed or Bottle Feed

If you're a new parent, either approach-breast- or bottle-feeding-can provide adequate nourishment and the strong emotional bond that your growing baby needs. Whenever possible, though, breast milk is best for baby during the first year of life. If you're not sure which approach to use, start with breast-feeding. If it isn't right for you, switch to bottle-feeding. Starting with a bottle, then trying later to breast-feed is difficult. If you choose to breast-feed, you'll find guidance in "BreastFeeding Your Baby" on this page. For bottle-feeding, see "Another Healthful Option: Bottle Feeding,"also in this chapter.

for the first six months, and continue when solids are introduced at about six months. The longer a baby breast-feeds, the greater the benefits. However, your baby benefits even when breast-feeding lasts for only a short time, perhaps only during your six- to eight-week maternity leave.

Breast milk has the right amount of fat, sugar, water, protein, and other nutrients to meet the growth, development, and energy needs of infants. And as a baby matures and grows, the composition and amount ofbreast milk that a mother produces naturally changes.

There's a lot to know about feeding an infant and a toddler-and about ensuring a positive eating experience from day one.

Check yourself out on these baby-feeding basics. Which infant-feeding practices do you follow (or have you followed) when feeding your baby-or perhaps when helping a new parent?

Yes

No

1.

Count the number of wet diapers (six or more every twenty-four hours) to make sure your

breast- or formula-fed baby is getting enough to eat.

2.

Offer breast milk or formula, not cow milk, to your baby up to twelve months of age.

3.

If your baby is bottle-fed, choose an iron-fortified formula-unless your baby's doctor advises

otherwise.

4.

Discard unused expressed breast milk or infant formula after a bottle feeding.

5.

Wait to start solid foods, as directed by your doctor-perhaps until six months if your baby is

exclusively breast-fed.

6.

Always wash your hands before feeding your baby.

7.

Clean all baby-feeding equipment with hot, soapy water, and rinse well.

8.

Avoid putting your baby to bed with a bottle.

9.

Offer infant cereal that's iron fortified.

10.

Start with single foods-one new food at a time.

11.

Monitor your baby's reaction to a new food, in case of a reaction.

12.

Offer your baby enough to eat, rather than trying to restrict calories or fat.

13.

Check the temperature of food or bottles that are heated so they're evenly warmed, not hot!

14.

Try new foods several times, rather than giving up after one or two tries.

15.

Let your baby-not you-set the feeding pace.

16.

Remain patient as your baby learns to feed himself or herself.

17.

Offer smooth foods until your baby is ready for mashed or finely chopped foods.

18.

Always stay with your baby while he or she is eating.

19.

Discard unused food after a feeding.

20.

Make infant feeding a special time to nurture and enjoy your baby-these days don't last!

Now Score Yourself:

Give yourself-and your baby-a big hug if you said "yes" to all twenty items. If you said "no" to any item, read on. Then practice what you learn. Your baby's health depends on it!

For most nutrients, what a mother eats has little if any effect on the nutritional content of breast milk. If the mother's nutrient intake is low, her body's own stored nutrients may be used for breast milk, putting her at potential nutritional risk. That's especially true for calcium and folate. For overall health, a nutritious diet during breast-feeding is important, as it was during pregnancy. See "For Those Who Breast-Feed" in chapter 17.

Breast-fed babies get protection from both allergies and common illnesses. Unlike formula, breast milk is rich in antibodies and other substances that help protect an infant from illnesses such as ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory illnesses, allergies, intestinal infections, and perhaps sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breast-fed babies aren't sick as often and have fewer doctor's visits. In fact, human milk contains at least a hundred ingredients that infant formula doesn't have!

Colostrum, the clear or yellow fluid secreted for two to four days after delivery, is rich in protein and vitamin A, with more antibodies than the mature milk that follows. It helps protect a newborn's intestines from infection during the first few months. Think of colostrum as a newborn's first immunization. Colostrum also helps a baby pass his or her first stool.

Breast milk changes with baby's changing needs. From about the third to the tenth day after delivery, the body produces transition milk—a mix of colostrum and mature milk. And then mature milk, bluish in color and thinner in consistency, comes in. As your baby needs to eat more and more often, your breasts produce more milk.

Breast milk is easy for babies to digest. It's clean and safe. Babies may react to something their mothers eat, but they're rarely allergic to their mother's milk. Breast-feeding requires more sucking than bottle-feeding. This helps strengthen and develop the baby's jaw and so helps teeth and speech patterns.

Later on, those who were breast-fed may be less likely to develop certain chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, asthma, some types of cancer, and certain stomach and intestinal diseases. Research in this area is not conclusive, but it is promising.

  • if breast size affects the success of breast-feeding? No, and it doesn't affect the volume of milk production, either. When a woman isn't breast-feeding, glands that produce milk are very small, regardless of breast size. The amounts of fat and fibrous tissue a woman has, not the glands that produce breast milk, determine breast size.
  • if premature babies can breast-feed successfully? Many premature babies can. But if your baby is born prematurely, get help from a lactation counselor, pedi-atric nurse, or your doctor. You may need to express milk at first; you'll still feed your milk to your baby, perhaps mixed with a nutrient supplement for preterm infants. For premature babies, breast milk offers benefits that help them grow and stay free from illness. There's another reason to start right away: you need to establish your milk supply if you plan to nurse. . . . if the foods you eat during pregnancy or breastfeeding increase your baby's risk for food allergies? Plenty of research indicates that breast-feeding reduces the risk for food allergies, particularly if there's a family history of allergies. In fact, food allergies are less common in breast-fed babies than in formula-fed babies.

No conclusive evidence shows that all pregnant or nursing mothers should avoid certain foods to protect against allergies. However, as a precaution against potential allergens in breast milk, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that nursing mothers of susceptible infants (with a family history of allergies) are wise to skip peanuts and peanut-containing foods.

. . . what to do if your baby reacts to something you eat? Be watchful. If your baby seems to react poorly after you eat certain foods, including those with known allergens, stop eating them for a while. Any allergic reaction usually comes from a protein in a food that a mother consumes, not from breast milk itself. If your pediatrician identifies an allergy, eliminate that food or ingredient in your diet until your baby is weaned. See "FoodAllergies: Commonly Uncommon"in chapter21.

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