HomeNourishmentBaby nutrition in the first year: from mother's milk to family meals

Baby nutrition in the first year: from mother’s milk to family meals

A balanced diet in the first year of life promotes development and can help protect against diseases. The following recommendations for healthy infant nutrition are primarily based on the findings of the Research Department for Child Nutrition (FKE) at the University Children’s Hospital Bochum and the recommendations for action of the nationwide network Gesund ins Leben.

They are scientifically based and take into account the physical development of babies. For the first time after birth, the unanimous recommendation is: Breast milk is the best choice – as the sole food for at least the first four months of life.

Breast milk has health benefits

Breast milk fully meets the energy and nutritional needs of the infant and adapts to the needs of the child as the child develops. It even changes during a feed: first it is thin and thirst-quenching, then it becomes more fatty, more energetic and more filling.

Compared to bottle-fed children, breastfed children have a reduced risk of diarrhoea, middle ear infections and later obesity. Premature babies also reap the benefits and should be breastfed or pumped.

By the way: Breast milk is less contaminated with pollutants from the environment today than it was 25 years ago.

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of cancer in the mother

There are also health benefits for the mother when she breastfeeds the child: the uterus shrinks more quickly after birth, and the risk of breast and ovarian cancer decreases. Breastfeeding also promotes the emotional bond between mother and child. Last but not least, breast milk is practical: it is hygienically impeccable, well-tempered and does not have to be bought or prepared separately.

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Tip: Problems with breastfeeding do not automatically mean that mothers have to stop breastfeeding earlier. Midwives and breastfeeding groups can help. Breastfeeding advice is offered by: for example the La Leche League Germany, the professional association of German lactation consultants IBCLC and the working group of free breastfeeding groups.

Mothers should pay attention to this when breastfeeding

Balanced nutrition. While breastfeeding, mothers should ensure a balanced and varied diet and drink enough – ideally with every breastfeeding meal. Caffeinated drinks are allowed in moderation.

No drugs. Alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs, on the other hand, should be avoided by breastfeeding women. Experts agree that completely abstaining from alcohol is safest for the infant. If, exceptionally, the mother does drink a small glass of wine or beer, it is after breastfeeding so that the alcohol has broken down as completely as possible before the next breastfeeding meal.

take iodine tablets. As a rule, breastfeeding mothers do not have to take any dietary supplements such as vitamin tablets – except for iodine: You should not only use iodized salt, but also take one tablet with 100 micrograms of iodine every day. Iodine tablets are available in pharmacies without a prescription, but you should discuss taking them with your doctor: women with certain thyroid diseases should not take any additional iodine. More on the mode of action and use of iodine as a drug in our Drugs in Test database.

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Babies also thrive on formula milk

If breastfeeding is not possible or if there is not enough breast milk, babies also thrive on industrially produced baby food that can be mixed (pre-milk in the test).

Milk mixed with “Pre” powder contains only milk sugar (lactose) as a digestible carbohydrate – just like breast milk. Infant formula labeled “1” may contain other carbohydrates such as starch in addition to lactose. It has not been proven that it keeps you full for longer.

Tip: In our article Fit for the bottle, we tell you how useful follow-on milk is and what to look out for when choosing a bottle, teat and when preparing the milk mealshould.

Milk alternatives: Unsuitable as sole food

Plant-based milk alternatives such as oat drink, soy drink, almond or rice drink are not suitable as sole food for infants. And experts also advise against self-made bottled milk from cow’s milk, goat’s, sheep’s or mare’s milk, so as not to endanger the nutrient supply and health of the baby.


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