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Months 0 - 6

From birth to six months, breast milk is the perfect, single source of nutrition to meet all of your baby’s dietary needs.

Did you know?

  • Your baby’s growth rate and milk intake are changing continually and are aligned by the ongoing adaptation of breast milk volume and composition.
  • The type of protein in breast milk changes over time, with whey decreasing and casein increasing, from less than 20% to about 50% of the total protein in mature breastmilk.
  • Breast milk is also packed with antibodies and contains good bacteria to protect your baby before his natural defenses are fully developed.

Protein and calories change from month to month

During the first few months of life, your little one will grow rapidly: your baby’s birth weight doubles in 6 months ! Babies gain an average of 1.3 ounces per day during the first month . Never again in your child’s life will they experience such a rapid growth period.

To fully harness this flying start, your baby needs an efficient fuel: your milk! Generally, from about the first to the fifth day of life, your baby ingests colostrum, an important yellow, “first breast milk”, rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals, ideal to give your baby their first start in life.

Next comes the transitional milk, which is rich in sugars and fats, gradually taking over until about day 14. Breast milk then becomes mature milk, from approximately the 15th day.

In the following months of lactation, as the pace of your baby’s growth declines a bit, the percentage of protein from milk decreases. The type of proteins also changes: during the first few months, an easy to digest group of proteins in the milk called "whey", make up the bulk of the milk. Whey is rich in several special proteins that support the development of your baby’s immune system. Over time, another type of protein called “casein”, which is also found in cow’s milk, increases and whey declines.

Fats provide energy for growth

Fats represent between 50 and 55% of the energy provided by mature milk, and are the nutrients that have the highest energy density. Protein and Lactose, the sugar found in milk, complements fat to provide needed calories.

The fat content of breast milk changes during the day and during each nursing session to fit the needs of your baby. Thus, the milk is richer in fat when your baby is likely to be the most active.

Antibodies and good bacteria reinforce its defenses

Breast milk contains immune proteins, including lactoferrin, which have positive effect on the immune system, and enhance the absorption of iron. Breast milk also contains antibodies, like immunoglobulin, that help protect your baby against many infectious diseases.

Breast milk also provides your baby with good bacteria (lactobacilli and bifidobacteria) which enhances intestinal flora, as well as non-digestible carbohydrates sugars that also contribute to the development of good bacteria in the gut to help strengthen his natural defenses.

Zinc and iron, two other essential elements

  • The milk you produce is rich in zinc during the first few months, to adjust to the rapid pace of growth of your baby. This mineral is essential to assimilate proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
  • Iron plays a crucial role in various metabolic processes (including red blood cell formation) and cognitive development. Before four months, your baby’s iron requirements are covered by the contribution of breast milk and reserves accumulated during fetal life. However, after four months, it’s possible that iron supplementation is needed. Ask your pediatrician for advice.