Proteins are essential for the development of your little one in his first months of life. Do you know where they are and why breast milk is the best source of protein for your baby? We will tell you.
Feeding children during their first months and years of life lays the foundation for their development in adulthood. And although protein is one of the most important macro nutrients in the development of its muscle and bone structure , the doses must be controlled when it comes to feeding a baby. But why?
Baby’s organs are not yet developed enough to process and metabolize large amounts of protein, and an uncontrolled consumption of this nutrient can wreak havoc on your health. In this sense, breast milk is the best way to ensure our baby an adequate diet and a correct dose of protein, since its formula is designed to provide our little one with the exact amount of macronutrients and micronutrients that he needs at each stage of his development.
The stages of breast milk
During the first months of life, the baby needs at each stage a specific supply of proteins that guarantee its correct development, since they play a fundamental role in the construction of its brain and muscles, among other things. The best way to meet these needs is through breastfeeding, whose chemical composition varies over the days to adapt to the needs of our baby. Thus, it begins with colostrum, which gradually changes its composition to become mature milk, which serves as food for our baby for a long period of time. The intermediate phase that unites both is transition milk.
Colostrum. It is the liquid that precedes breast milk and is secreted by the mammary glands during pregnancy and the days after delivery. Compared to mature breast milk, colostrum contains a lower amount of lactose, fat and water-soluble vitamins, but it is rich in IgA and lactoferrin proteins, responsible for fighting possible infections that the baby may suffer.
Transition milk . The days that colostrum lasts vary in each case, since it depends on the mother and the baby, but it always ranges from 3 to 5 days immediately after delivery. It is thereafter when the mammary glands begin to secrete the transition milk, a process that is commonly called “milk rising”. This type of milk, which compared to colostrum is much more abundant, has less protein, but a greater amount of essential components such as calcium, fatty acids or lactose. Its composition adapts throughout the days until it becomes mature milk.
Ripe milk . Between 10 and 15 days after the baby is born, the production of mature milk begins, richer in lactose, fats and essential fatty acids. Its final composition depends on the specific needs of your baby, but among all its components, fats are the ones that vary the most during the minutes that it takes, since they depend on how full the chest is. Thus, at the beginning of each feeding, the milk contains less fat and, nevertheless, towards the end, it contains up to 4 or 5 times more concentration of this nutrient. In this way, the baby quenches his thirst first and then his appetite. This type of milk is immunomodulatory , that is, it stimulates the development of the infant’s immune system.
The perfect balance in protein intake
Among the more than a thousand proteins that breast milk contains, there are two of them that are fundamental: casein and whey . The first one has antimicrobial properties and, in addition, it plays an important role in quenching your baby’s hunger, since once combined with the acids in its stomach, it becomes curd. Whey, meanwhile, is rich in antibodies , making it key to strengthening your immune system. These proportions, as we say, vary with the passing of the weeks until the amounts are equal in mature breast milk.
Thus, as your baby grows and develops his own defenses, the composition of the milk adapts, and Protective enzymes and antibodies in milk are reduced in proportion. Meanwhile, the lysozyme enzyme, responsible for fighting bacteria, increases. And although proteins continue to be synthesized at the same rate, they are more easily diluted and assimilated as the amount of milk increases.
Thus, to guarantee the good quality of breast milk, it is essential that as a mother you eat a balanced, complete and varied diet in which there is no lack of calcium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin D or folic acid. Remember that taking care of your diet is taking care of your baby’s health.