The best thing you can do to ensure your child gets the right amount of protein is to breastfeed. It’s the ideal source of protein, and overall nutrition, for little children because it adapts to meet their changing needs. This means you need not worry that your breast milk will have too much (or too little) protein.
It’s true that your child needs protein for healthy growth. In fact, they need more protein per kilogram of his body weight than you do. However, too much protein can have a negative effect on his health. Studies have shown that children consuming too much protein gain weight too quickly and this extra fat may stay with them as they get older. Contrary to some beliefs, a chubby child is not healthier than a child who has a normal and healthy weight.
Preventing health problems now and in the future
“Breastfed children are less likely to develop common childhood infections such as diarrhoea, serious colds, or ear and throat infections. And there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that breastfeeding is linked to a child’s healthy growth, including his brain development, and later speech, intelligence, and academic performance,” explains Dr. Evelyn Spivey-Krobath, PhD, Nutrition Scientist at Nestlé Nutrition. Breast milk protein plays an important role in your child’s health by providing immune factors, as well as amino acids for brain development.
“Breastfeeding is associated with a healthy, desirable rate of weight gain during early childhood and can help your child stay on an appropriate growth curve. This is partly because of the tailored level of protein breast milk contains. Breastfeeding also provides a moderate but consistent protective effect against later obesity,” explains Dr. Spivey-Krobath. “A combination of studies revealed that children who were breastfed had a 20% lower risk of being overweight (and a 25% lower risk of being obese) at school enrolment compared with those who were never breastfed.”
The length of time you breastfeed for also has an effect. “The longer a child was breastfed, the lower his risk of being overweight or obese at the age of five to six,” adds Dr. Spivey-Krobath. Public health experts have identified tackling childhood obesity and weight issues as a crucial way to reduce health problems in later childhood and adulthood. “Breastfeeding your child is the best way of ensuring your child grows up healthily.”
Your action plan
✔ Do… breastfeed your child exclusively in the first six months. Breast milk contains the right amount and quality of protein to meet your child’s changing needs as he grows.
✘ Don’t… give your little one cow’s milk in the first year. It contains more protein than your breast milk and isn’t suitable for his immature digestive system.
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Last revised: May, 2017
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