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
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
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.
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.