Thank you so much for your feedback and questions that you left for Dr Ellie Cannon on the ‘First 1000 days‘ post.

In my first post I mentioned how important the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life (from conception to their second birthday) are, and how key it is to make sure our littles ones get the correct amount of protein in their diet to help them grow and develop at a steady rate. In breast milk the protein level decreases as our baby’s grow, making sure they get just the right amount – this can help decrease their chances of being overweight in later life.

SMA Nutrition and Dr Ellie Cannon have selected some of your questions about the importance of nutrition in the first 1000 days of your baby’s life to answer…

At what point does the protein levels in breast milk decreases? Is that before or after the 6 months’ mark when babies start weaning and getting extra nutrients from food? And does it decrease to insufficient levels to cover the baby’s requirements?

Breast milk is dynamic – in the beginning it contains lots of high quality protein because your baby needs to grow very fast and, later on, as the baby’s needs change, the amount of protein in breast milk decreases. The protein content of breast milk decreases from the first week and every week thereafter until it starts to level out at around 3 months. Breast milk gives your baby exactly what they need for their healthy growth and development, and provided the mum is well nourished, will cover the baby’s requirements. Ensuring your baby gets the correct quality and quantity of protein can help them to grow at an appropriate rate, which could contribute to a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese in later life.

Have you any tips on how I can factor in bottles of expressed milk too? Do I need to stick to my pregnancy diet during breastfeeding months (no soft cheese etc.)?

Bottles of expressed milk are a popular choice for mums who are breastfeeding. It is also good to have the convenience of both bottle and breastfeeding, for those unexpected mummy absences! A nice time to give a bottle of expressed milk is a dream feed, (a dream feed is a calm, quiet feed around 10.30/11pm. It is called the dream feed as your baby is usually fast asleep and will probably take the feed with her eyes closed), or an evening when dad is at home to join in. Once you have banked up enough breast milk, you could make that a part of your regular routine.

When you are breastfeeding, your diet is really important for nourishing yourself and your little one. A healthy diet includes eating at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day, starchy foods, plenty of fibre, protein, dairy foods and drinking plenty of fluids. Eating fish while breastfeeding is good for your health and your baby’s, but while you’re breastfeeding you should have no more than two portions of oily fish a week. Also, caffeine can reach your baby through your breast milk and may keep them awake. It’s advised that pregnant and breastfeeding women restrict their caffeine intake to less than 300mg a day (just over two mugs of filter coffee). While breastfeeding, it’s recommended you take supplements containing 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D each day. You can get all the other vitamins and minerals you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

I hope this advice is helpful to you if you are about to start your nutritional journey, or if like us, about to continue it. For more advice you can go to the SMAmums website, or you can contact the SMA Careline.

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