Baby Nutrition 0 – 6 Months: Breast Milk Offers the Best Nutritional Start
Grace Quek, Senior Dietitian, at the Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) shares more on why breast milk offers the best nutritional start for your baby and some information on milk formula.
Making a decision between breastfeeding and formula feeding, or a combination of both, is a very personal one. Sometimes, you may find yourself unable to breastfeed, or you’re not sure if supplementing breast milk with formula is good for your baby.
What you feed your baby during his first few months determines how well his immune system and body will develop.
Ms Grace Quek, Senior Dietitian, Nutrition and Dietetics Department, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group will help you make an informed decision by sharing some information on breast milk and formula.
Breast milk offers the best nutritional start
For the first six months of your baby’s life, breast milk offers him the best nutritional start as it is tailor-made to his needs.
Breast milk contains all the nutrients your baby needs, and in the right proportions. It also contains valuable antibodies to help him fight infections and build immunity during his initial days.
As he grows, the breast milk you provide will continue to adapt to his changing nutritional needs.
If breast milk is unavailable, or if you’d like to supplement your baby’s diet, then you may feed your baby an age-appropriate milk formula.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends iron-fortified cow’s milk infant formula, as it is most appropriate for babies 0 to 12 months who are not breastfed or who are partially breastfed.
What are the essential ingredients in infant formula and what role do they play in your baby’s development?
Most milk formulas are formulated to resemble the nutritional composition of breast milk.
Generally, the essential ingredients of infant formula include carbohydrate, protein, fat as well as vitamins and minerals to meet the needs of a growing full-term infant. Other important components, which should be present, include choline, inositol and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (AA and DHA).
The nutritional content of all infant formulas sold in Singapore are in accordance with the recommendations made by the World Health Organization (WHO) and can meet the nutritional requirements of your baby.
3 things your baby doesn’t need when you’re breast- or formula-feeding
Your baby doesn’t require additional water in the first six months of his life or before you introduce solid foods to him. Breast milk or formula alone would provide the fluids that his body needs daily.
Fish oil supplements
It is not necessary to give fish oil supplements to your baby, as breast milk and fortified formula milk are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
A balanced diet is vital to providing all the essential nutrients that the baby needs. However, your baby, whether breast-fed and bottle-fed, does not require any additional supplements until about six months of age.
When and how should you introduce solid foods to your baby? Read on to find out.