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Welcome back, nutrition enthusiasts. We just finished our series: A Course In Nutrition: Learning Your A, B, C’s . Now, we’ll embark on a 4-part series about Childhood Nutrition.
With chronic diseases on the rise in children, I thought it would be important to lay the framework for the nutritional milestones that need to be met in order for our children to grow to be healthy and strong.
This first blog will focus on nutrition from birth to 1 year old.
I have written, and rewritten, this blog several times. I’m trying desperately to get you all the information you could want related to infant nutrition. Then I realized something important. I’m writing a blog, not a book. It’s not possible to get every aspect of infant nutrition in a single blog. So, I am choosing a few points that I find important. I hope that you’ll fall down your own rabbit holes, to learn much more about this important topic.
I think it’s fair to say that most people know that it’s best if mom can nurse her infant child. However, sometimes there are challenges that prevent that. So, we’ll discuss optimal strategies for breast feeding and formula feeding.
If mom is able to nurse her child, it will be important to discuss her nutrition. What momma eats is what baby will eat, too.
All mothers, whether planning on long-term nursing, or not, should at least nurse baby for the first day or two. There is a very important compound, call colostrum, that is found in the first few feedings of mother’s milk.
Colostrum is the first form of milk produced, immediately following delivery of the newborn. Colostrum has an especially high amount of bioactive compounds compared to mother’s mature milk. This gives the baby the best possible start to life. Specifically, colostrum contains antibodies to protect the newborn baby against disease and infection. It also has immune and growth factors and other nutrients that help to activate a newborn’s immune system. It jumpstarts digestive function and seeds a healthy gut microbiome in the first few days of life. The nutrients found in colostrum are essential for the newborn’s health, growth and vitality.
It’s important to understand that at birth, the surroundings of the newborn change from a nearly sterile environment in the mother’s womb to a microbe-rich environment outside the womb. Without consuming mother’s first milk, the baby won’t get the antibodies and nutrients necessary to protect the digestive tract from the introduction of these new microbes. As mentioned above, not only is the digestive tract responsible for digesting food, it also plays a key role in creating a healthy immune system.
OK, now that you know what colostrum is…..and it’s importance….let’s talk about what nursing moms should be doing to make sure their babies are getting their nutritional needs met.
There are key nutrients that are critically important for the development of infants. It’s really important that moms are getting optimal amounts of these nutrients in order to have enough in their breast milk to nourish their children.
Vitamin D is essential for:
- Immune system regulation
- Brain health, through neural connections
- Bone and teeth formation
Nursing moms need to load up on Vitamin D. An interesting study found that in order for babies to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from breast milk, most moms need to get 6,400 IU daily from food, sun and/or supplements.
Often times, pediatricians will just tell nursing moms to give their babies 400 IU supplemental drops. Well, since moms need Vit D, too, it’s really a win-win to have mom take a healthy dose to support her and the baby.
Vitamin A is essential for:
- Development of vision/eyesight
- Healthy immune system
- Healthy reproductive system
- Formation and maintenance of healthy skin, hair and mucous membranes
Nursing moms should consume 1300 to 1500 mcg Vit A daily through foods to meet the needs of baby and herself. Supplement if not getting enough through food.
Vitamin C is essential for:
- Forming collagen, a protein that gives structure to bones, cartilage, muscle, blood vessels, and other connective tissue
- Helping to maintain bones and teeth
- Healing wounds
- Playing a role in the body’s ability to resist infections
- Enhancing the absorption of iron
Nursing moms should consume 1,000 milligrams per day. The best way is through food, but you can supplement if not getting enough.
Of course, there are other vitamins that are crucial, too. But, I’ve highlighted these three due to their critical need. To review the needs of these and other vitamins, please revisit the blog series on Learning Your ABC’s. This series will highlight the best foods to eat for each of the vitamins listed.
I certainly understand that there are circumstances where a mother cannot nurse her baby and a supplemental form of feeding will be required. What many moms might not know is that there are milk banks available so that moms can have access to real breast milk for their child. Mother’s Milk Bank is a great resource. If this is not a resource that works for you, I want to highlight the good, and not so good, types of infant formula.
After breast-feeding fell out of favor in the 1920’s, one common way to feed infants was to use evaporated milk. It was inexpensive and readily available. Many pediatricians recommended a ratio of mixing 13 oz of evaporated milk with 19 oz of water and two tablespoons of table sugar. This was the preferred way to feed babies who were not being breast-food through the 1960’s. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, powdered infant formula started to see a rise in use. (Sadly, that’s when we also started to see a rise in childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes and digestive disorders. There are many reasons for this. But’s it’s likely that poor quality infant formula may have played a role.)
If you look at a can of commercially produced infant formula today, these are typically the first three ingredients you will find:
- Corn syrup
- Milk protein isolate
- Soy oil and safflower oil combo
If you look at a can of soy formula, the first three ingredients are typically:
- Corn syrup
- You might see the term corn maltodextrin (which is sugar from corn)
- Soy oil and safflower oil combo
- Soy protein isolate
The manufacturers of these products will tell you that the reason that these are always the first three ingredients is that it mimics the proper carb, protein and fat ratio of mother’s milk.
Well, it might mimic the ratio……but it does not mimic the nutritional value……not by a long-shot.
The scariest part of these products is that corn and soy are the largest genetically modified crops in the US. So newborn babies are starting their journey on genetically modified syrups, oils and proteins.
(If you want to fall down another rabbit hole, look up the work of Dr Stephanie Seneff. You’ll understand why you don’t want to feed genetically modified infant formula to your baby.)
The intent here is not to scare you half-to-death about purchasing infant formula. Instead, it’s to empower you to purchase the healthiest options available.
There are several ‘organic’ infant formulas out there. However, just because they are ‘organic’ doesn’t mean they provide optimal nutrition for infants. There are two brands out there that do their best to mimic mother’s milk. Those brands are:
- Organics Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula
- The Honest Co Organic Premium Formula
Also, please know that it’s possible to make a healthy formula at home and I’m including that recipe at the end of this blog.
Introducing Solid Food
When I was raising my children (now 37 and 35), pediatricians encouraged us to introduce rice cereal and Cream of Wheat as babies first foods at 4-6 months old. Sadly, most of us followed that advice. Heck, we weren’t the experts…..the pediatricians were, right? Well, that’s another piece of poor nutrition advice that’s led to the surge in obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Times have certainly changed and many holistic nutritionists recommend animal food as baby’s first solids. Typically, this is in the form of:
- egg yolks
- bone broths
- pureed fish
Pureed veggies can be added at this time, too.
But, it’s important to do this gradually! The digestive tract of babies is permeable, but it’s permeable for a reason. It is necessary to develop tolerance of many antigens and allergens from the environment. Introducing foods during months 6 and up ensures that the child develops tolerance and can eat natural foods without reacting with allergies. Properly prepared grains and legumes should be saved until the child is 12 months and older.
- Breast-feed, if at all possible.
- Breast-feed for first day, or two, so that baby gets colostrum
- Read labels on infant formula
- Choose animal products as first foods, instead of highly processed grains
As mentioned above, there’s so much more on this topic. Please fall down your own rabbit holes, so that you provide optimal nutrition for your baby. Also, if you feel a bit confused about the best course of nutrition for your baby, please reach out to a Nutrition Therapist Master, they’ll be so happy to help you provide optimal nutrition for your little one.
And, as always, here’s a recipe to end the blog. This recipe is not for you, though. It’s for your baby. And, I’ve provided a bonus recipe….sort of. It’s a quick summary of how to prepare egg yolks for your baby, once they reach 6 months, or so.
If you’ve been following our blogs, you know we end each one with an easy to prepare recipe. This one takes a bit of work, but it is so worth the effort.
Homemade Infant Formula
From Weston A Price website.
Makes 36 ounces.
Our milk-based formula takes account of the fact that human milk is richer in whey, lactose, vitamin C, niacin, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to cow’s milk but leaner in casein (milk protein). The addition of gelatin to cow’s milk formula will make it more digestible for the infant. Use only truly expeller-expressed oils in the formula recipes, otherwise they may lack vitamin E.
The ideal milk for baby, if he cannot be breastfed, is clean, whole raw milk from old-fashioned cows, certified free of disease, that feed on green pasture. For sources of good quality milk, see www.realmilk.com or contact a local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
If the only choice available to you is commercial milk, choose whole milk, preferably organic and unhomogenized, and culture it with a piima or kefir culture to restore enzymes (available from G.E.M. Cultures 253-588-2922.
- 2 cups whole raw cow’s milk, preferably from pasture-fed cows
- 1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below) Note: Do NOT use powdered whey or whey from making cheese (which will cause the formula to curdle). Use only homemade whey made from yoghurt, kefir or separated raw milk.
- 4 tablespoons lactose
- 1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis (powdered probiotic – specific strain)
- 2 or more tablespoons good quality cream (preferably not ultrapasteurized), more if you are using milk from Holstein cows
- 1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil
- 1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil (optional)
- 1 teaspoon expeller-expressed sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons Frontier brand nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 teaspoons gelatin*
- 1-7/8 cups filtered water
- 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder
*We do not recommend collagen hydrolysate, but only recommended brands of gelatin listed in our Shopping Guide.
- Put 2 cups filtered water into a pyrex measuring pitcher and remove 2 tablespoons (that will give you 1-7/8 cups water).
- Pour about half of the water into a pan and place on a medium flame.
- Add the gelatin and lactose to the pan and let dissolve, stirring occasionally.
- When the gelatin and lactose are dissolved, remove from heat and add the remaining water to cool the mixture.
- Stir in the coconut oil and optional high-vitamin butter oil and stir until melted.
- Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients into a blender.
- Add the water mixture and blend about three seconds.
- Place in glass bottles or a glass jar and refrigerate.
- Before giving to baby, warm bottles by placing in hot water or a bottle warmer.
- NEVER warm bottles in a microwave oven.
Boiled Egg Yolk
From Weston A Price website.
Egg Yolk for Baby
Egg yolk should be baby’s first solid food, starting at 5-6 months, whether baby is breastfed or formula-fed. Egg yolks from pastured hens will contain the special long-chain fatty acids so critical for the optimal development of the brain and nervous system. The whites may cause an allergic reaction and should not be given to baby until at least one year old.
- 1 organic egg from a pasture-fed hen
- Boil egg for 3 1/2 minutes.
- Place in a bowl and peel off shell.
- Remove egg white and discard.
- Yolk should be soft and warm, not hot, with its enzyme content intact.
Optimal nutrition is important for your child’s physical and mental health. Learn more about how to nourish your baby as they grow into a toddler, through middle childhood, when they go off to school, and during their teenage years.
About the Author: Dr Becky Spacke is a course instructor at Nutrition Therapy Institute. Additionally, she has a private practice focused on minimizing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease as a qualified ReCODE practitioner. You can learn more about her work at www.HealingFromAlz.com
About Nutrition Therapy Institute’s Holistic Nutrition Certification
Nutrition Therapy Institute (NTI) is a leader in holistic nutrition education. Since 1999, NTI has provided students with the highest quality in nutrition training by offering comprehensive holistic nutrition courses. Offering online and in-person nutrition course options to help students achieve thriving careers as holistic nutrition therapists. Interested in starting our holistic nutrition courses and earning your holistic nutrition certification? Attend an informational webinar to learn more by signing up HERE.
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