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 Nourishing a Growing Baby I

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Nombre de messages : 1737
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Date d'inscription : 01/06/2005

MessageSujet: Nourishing a Growing Baby I   Mer 26 Avr - 18:40

Nourishing a Growing Baby

By Jen Allbritton, CN

Food is what nourishes the body and makes us healthy and strong—especially when one’s weight hovers around 20 pounds! Infant nutrition is critical for ensuring proper development, maximizing learning capacities and preventing illness. At no other time in life is nutrition so important. But which foods are best? The research clearly points in the direction of Weston A. Price Foundation principles.
Breast or Bottle

Numerous studies support the benefits of breastfeeding. For example, breastfed babies tend to be more robust, intelligent and free of allergies and other complaints like intestinal difficulties.1 Other studies have shown that breastfed infants have reduced rates of respiratory illnesses and ear infections.2,3 Some researchers believe breastfed infants have greater academic potential than formula-fed infants, which is thought to be due to the fatty acid DHA found in mother’s milk and not in most US formulas.4

However, other studies show the opposite. In 2001, a study found breastfed children had more asthma than bottle-fed.5 A Swedish study found that breastfed infants were just as likely to develop childhood ear infections6 and childhood cancer as formula-fed babies.7

So, what is best for baby? It comes down to nutrition! Hands down, healthy breast milk is perfectly designed for baby’s physical and mental development, but this is only true when mom supplies her body with the right nutrients.

The typical modern diet is filled with products based on sugar, white flour, additives and commercial fats and oils, which do not nourish and build. The proper nutrients are necessary to create breast milk that will provide all a growing baby needs. These include good quality proteins from foods such as grass-fed meats and organ meats, good quality fats from butter, coconut oil, olive oil, cod liver oil and egg yolks, as well as complex carbohydrate-rich foods like vegetables, whole grains and legumes—think whole food, natural and seasonal, with a big emphasis on healthy fat.

Bottom line, in a perfect world, with perfect nutrition, every woman would breastfeed. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. What about low milk supply, an unwell mother or adoption? Luckily, it is possible to make a wholesome whole food baby formula. (See FAQs on Homemade Baby Formula.)

After (or With) the Breast or Bottle

Ideally, breastfeeding should be maintained for a year, with a goal of six months for working mothers. The first year of life requires a full spectrum of nutrients, including fats, protein, cholesterol, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Once breast milk is no longer the sole source of these nutrients, where should one go?

There are three concepts to keep in mind. First, make your little one a “whole foods baby”! Avoid processed and refined foods as much as possible, including many brands of baby food; they are usually devoid of nutrients and have added “undesirables.” It is always best to make your own baby food from organic, whole foods. (You can freeze it in one-serving sizes for later use.) Better-quality, additive-free, prepared brands of baby food, like Earth’s Best, do exist, but it is still better to make your own baby food to be assured of the quality—plus making baby food puts mom on the right track for home food preparation for the years to come.

Second, go slowly and be observant; every baby will have an individual response to different foods. Introduce new foods one at a time and continue to feed that same food for at least four days to rule out the possibility of a negative reaction. Signs of intolerance include redness around the mouth; abdominal bloating, gas and distention; irritability, fussiness, over-activity and awaking throughout the night; constipation and diarrhea; frequent regurgitation of foods; nasal and/or chest congestion; and red, chapped or inflamed eczema-like skin rash.8

Finally, respect the tiny, still-developing digestive system of your infant. Babies have limited enzyme production, which is necessary for the digestion of foods. In fact, it takes up to 28 months, just around the time when molar teeth are fully developed, for the big-gun carbohydrate enzymes (namely amylase) to fully kick into gear. Foods like cereals, grains and breads are very challenging for little ones to digest. Thus, these foods should be some of the last to be introduced. (One carbohydrate enzyme a baby’s small intestine does produce is lactase, for the digestion of lactose in milk.1)

Foods introduced too early can cause digestive troubles and increase the likelihood of allergies (particularly to those foods introduced). The baby’s immature digestive system allows large particles of food to be absorbed. If these particles reach the bloodstream, the immune system mounts a response that leads to an allergic reaction. Six months is the typical age when solids should be introduced,9,10,11 however, there are a few exceptions.

Babies do produce functional enzymes (pepsin and proteolytic enzymes) and digestive juices (hydrochloric acid in the stomach) that work on proteins and fats.12 This makes perfect sense since the milk from a healthy mother has 50-60 percent of its energy as fat, which is critical for growth, energy and development.13 In addition, the cholesterol in human milk supplies an infant with close to six times the amount most adults consume from food.13 In some cultures, a new mother is encouraged to eat six to ten eggs a day and almost ten ounces of chicken and pork for at least a month after birth. This fat-rich diet ensures her breast milk will contain adequate healthy fats.14

Thus, a baby’s earliest solid foods should be mostly animal foods since his digestive system, although immature, is better equipped to supply enzymes for digestion of fats and proteins rather than carbohydrates.1 This explains why current research is pointing to meat (including nutrient-dense organ meat) as being a nourishing early weaning food.

Is Cereal the Best First Food?

Remember, the amount of breast milk and/or formula decreases when solid foods are introduced. This decrease may open the door for insufficiencies in a number of nutrients critical for baby’s normal growth and development. The nutrients that are often in short supply when weaning begins include protein, zinc, iron and B-vitamins. One food group that has these nutrients in ample amounts is meat.

Unfortunately, cereal is the most often recommended early weaning food. A recent Swedish study suggests that when infants are given substantial amounts of cereal, they may suffer from low concentrations of zinc and reduced calcium absorption.15

In the US, Dr. Nancy Krebs headed up a large infant growth study that found breastfed infants who received puréed or strained meat as a primary weaning food beginning at four to five months grew at a slightly faster rate. Kreb’s study suggests that inadequate protein or zinc from common first foods may limit the growth of some breastfed infants during the weaning period. More importantly, both protein and zinc levels were consistently higher in the diets of the infants who received meat.16 Thus, the custom of providing large amounts of cereals and excluding meats before seven months of age may short-change the nutritional requirements of the infant.17

Meat is also an excellent source of iron. Heme iron (the form of iron found in meat) is better absorbed than iron from plant sources (non-heme). Additionally, the protein in meat helps the baby more easily absorb iron from other foods.18 Two recent studies19,20 have examined iron status in breastfed infants who received meat earlier in the weaning period. While researchers found no measurable change in breastfed babies’ iron stores when they received an increased amount of meat, the levels of hemoglobin (iron-containing cells) circulating in the bloodstream did increase. Meat also contains a much greater amount of zinc than cereals, which means more is absorbed.21 These studies confirm the practices of traditional peoples, who gave meat—usually liver—as the first weaning food. Furthermore, the incidence of allergic reactions to meat is minimal and lower still when puréed varieties are used.17,22,23,24

Don’t fear fats!

Pediatric clinicians have known for some time that children fed low-fat and low-cholesterol diets fail to grow properly. After all, a majority of mother’s milk is fat, much of it saturated fat. Children need high levels of fat throughout growth and development. Milk and animal fats give energy and also help children build muscle and bone.1 In addition, the animal fats provide vitamins A and D necessary for protein and mineral assimilation, normal growth and hormone production.27

Choose a variety of foods so your child gets a range of fats, but emphasize stable saturated fats, found in butter, meat and coconut oil, and monounsaturated fats, found in avocados and olive oil.

Foods to Introduce

Egg yolks, rich in choline, cholesterol and other brain-nourishing substances, can be added to your baby’s diet as early as four months,1 as long as baby takes it easily. (If baby reacts poorly to egg yolk at that age, discontinue and try again one month later.) Cholesterol is vital for the insulation of the nerves in the brain and the entire central nervous system. It helps with fat digestion by increasing the formation of bile acids and is necessary for the production of many hormones. Since the brain is so dependent on cholesterol, it is especially vital during this time when brain growth is in hyper-speed.25 Choline is another critical nutrient for brain development. The traditional practice of feeding egg yolks early is confirmed by current research. A study published in the June 2002 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the nutritional effects of feeding weaning infants 6-12 months of age regular egg yolks, enriched egg yolks, and an otherwise normal diet. The researchers found that both breastfed and formula-fed infants who consumed the egg yolks had improved iron levels when compared with the infants who did not. In addition, those infants who got the egg yolks enriched with extra fatty acids had 30 percent to 40 percent greater DHA levels than those fed regular egg yolks. No significant effect on blood cholesterol levels was seen.26

Thus, the best choice for baby is yolks from pasture-fed hens raised on flax meal, fish meal, or insects since they will contain higher levels of DHA. Why just the yolk? The white is the portion that most often causes allergic reactions, so wait to give egg whites until after your child turns one.1,11

Don’t neglect to put a pinch of salt on the egg yolk. While many books warn against giving salt to babies, salt is actually critical for digestion as well as for brain development. Use unrefined salt to supply a variety of trace minerals.

Around four months is a good time to start offering cod liver oil, which is an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA (also important for brain develoment) as well as vitamins A and D. Start with a 1/4 teaspoon of high-vitamin cod liver oil or 1/2 teaspoon regular dose cod liver oil, doubling the amount at 8 months.12 Use an eye dropper at first; later baby can take cod liver oil mixed with a little water or fresh orange juice.

If baby is very mature and seems hungry, he may be given mashed banana during this period. Ripe banana is a great food for babies because it contains amylase enzymes to digest carbohydrates.1
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