Nutrition is a crucial element of life for a newborn baby. For babies who receive nutrition through breastfeeding alone, their nutrition depends on that of the mother. In this article, we take a look at how nutritional factors enable a baby’s healthy development, and discuss vitamins and minerals that are important for newborns and nursing mothers alike.
Nutrition for Babies and Nursing Mothers
A newborn baby’s nutrition is crucial to his or her growth and development. In the first 12 months of life, a baby’s growth and development takes place at a rapid pace. From birth, a baby’s weight doubles in 4-5 months, and triples by 12 months. Proper nutrition ensures that this growth takes place, but it also does so much more.
Nutrient intake is integral for the healthy development of a baby’s bones. Less-than-ideal bone development can put a child at risk for arthritis and impair their physical abilities. Proper nutrition is also necessary for a baby to develop a healthy immune system. Insufficient nutrition could lead to a state of malnutrition, and/or the development of disease. Breastfeeding is the ideal way to feed a newborn, since this practice of feeding and bonding is usually sufficient for a baby’s nutrition in the first six months of life. Some mothers choose to give their babies formula, but many do not. A mother’s diet and nutrient intake influences her ability to provide her baby with sufficient nutrients through breastfeeding. A mother’s postpartum nutrition also bears on her own well-being. Some mothers might experience a nutrient deficiency around this time. This is because of efforts such as labor and breastfeeding, as well as being generally busy in the weeks and months after giving birth. Given all these factors, breastfeeding mothers should carefully evaluate and plan their nutrient intake.
Vitamins & Minerals for Nursing Mothers & Their Newborns
A newborn who feeds through breastfeeding alone is dependent on his or her mother for essentially all of their nutrients. Here are some vitamins and nutrients which are recommended as dietary supplements for breastfeeding mothers of newborn babies. These could benefit the mother and child alike. Mothers should consult their healthcare provider before supplementing with any of these, just for caution.
Vitamin B12 is a crucial vitamin. Among other things, B12 is a nominal supporter of healthy neurological functioning. Without enough of it, both newborn child and mother could be at risk for developing anemia. Mothers who are on a vegetarian or vegan diet can especially benefit from supplementing with vitamin B12, and certainly their newborns as well. This is because many plant-based foods lack B12, which is a crucial vitamin and highly-recommended supplement to the diets of many new mothers.
Calcium is another crucial vitamin. Calcium is essential for the development of strong bones and teeth in babies, and for strong bones in adults, especially breastfeeding mothers. It’s also critically important for a sound nervous system, circulatory health, and muscle functioning. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should take in at least 1,000mg of calcium per day.
Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, plays a role in the development of a baby’s brain and spinal cord, as well as in the production of red and white blood cells. For proper nervous system development in the baby, it’s recommended that women take in at least 500mcg of folic acid while pregnant and breastfeeding. A similar amount is even recommended for women prior to conception, in order to ensure her body has plenty of it in the early weeks of pregnancy.
Vitamin D is necessary for developing babies, one purpose being its support of absorption of calcium in the body. It also supports the immune system.
Iron supplementation can help prevent iron deficiency anemia in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. If the mother of a newborn doesn’t take in enough iron, she could become sluggish and fatigued, which are signs of anemia.
If you are a woman who is pregnant or trying to become pregnant, then now is the time to consider taking in the nutrients which are listed above. These can be enormously beneficial to the health of both you and your baby.