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Feed my baby

The importance of milk in a balanced diet

Calcium, vitamins, lipids… breastmilk, or failing that, infant formula milk suited to the age of the child are a vital source of nutrients for baby’s healthy development from birth up to the age of 3 and beyond. Consumed exclusively and then in addition to a varied diet, this milk is the bedrock of their diet. Here is an overview of the importance of milk and its benefits.

Never sideline milk

From their very first day, milk is an integral part of baby’s daily life. Breastmilk is ideal, but if the mother cannot or does not wish to breastfeed, it will be necessary to choose a milk formula suited to the child’s age. These milk formulas fulfil their nutritional requirements, both in terms of macronutrients (lipids, carbohydrates, proteins) and micro nutrients (vitamins, iron, zinc and other minerals…), as well as the absolutely essential provision of calcium.

Of course, at around 4 to 6 months, baby grows. Milk is no longer sufficient to cover all of their nutritional requirements. This is why we start varying their diet, but this doesn’t mean that milk can be put to one side! Quite the opposite, it continues to play a very important role in baby’s diet.

Milk suited to baby’s age

Milk suited to baby’s age

If you are not breastfeeding your child, you will need to decide which milk to choose. Before dietary diversification, which takes place between 4 and 6 months, you will need to choose an infant milk formula which is frequently referred to as “1st stage milk”, but it is not always easy to work it out! Choosing milk is not a simple matter and will be different from one child to another. Talk about it with your doctor to help you choose.

From 6 months to 1 year, “follow-on preparations”, referred to as “2nd stage milk” take over. The transition from one type of milk to the other takes place as your baby’s diet becomes more varied and they are enjoying their first milk-free meal.

Finally, from 10 to 12 months, opt for a “growing-up milk” and give it to them until they are 3 and more.

Warning: before the age of one, liquid cows milk is not suited to the needs of the child.

EXPERT OPINION: which milk for my baby?

EXPERT OPINION: which milk for my baby?

Apart from milks for premature babies, there are 3 categories of milk, which have been developed to fulfil the requirements of each stage and baby:

  • “Standard” 1st and 2nd stages milks, for healthy babies, available in supermarkets and pharmacies.
  • Milks for minor digestive problems, available in supermarkets and pharmacies, useful for trying to reduce certain minor issues related to digestion (regurgitation, constipation, colic, baby is never sated, etc.).
  • Therapeutic milks for babies suffering from illnesses: gastro-oesophageal reflux, allergic risk, allergy to cow’s milk, lactose intolerance… They’re only available in pharmacies.

The most suitable milk for your baby should be chosen in consultation with your doctor.

Diversification: enter the milk products!

Between 4 and 6 months (start of diversification) and the age of 12 months, baby consumes between 500 and 900 ml of milk or milk equivalents per day. This intake can be varied with specific milk products, which are suitable for their age, when they transition to 2nd stage milk (between 6 and 12 months).
These products, which have been specially designed for babies, are not found with the fresh products in the supermarket, but instead with the preserved products. The 120 g containers correspond to yoghurts, whilst the 60 g containers correspond to ”petits suisses”. They generally contain 2 times less protein than regular products of this kind and some of them contain iron and essential fatty acids, which are ideal for baby’s development! In terms of food safety, they comply with regulations on foodstuffs for young children. To keep things varied for baby, you can also add fruit so long as the quantities remain fairly limited, of course.
It should be noted that these dairy products for baby are not the equivalent of 2nd stage milk. If you would like yoghurt that is the equivalent of 2nd stage or growth milk, you can make them yourself at home by following the recipes on Mpedia.

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Questions / Answers

If your baby is allergic to cows milk proteins, seek the advice of your doctor. They will help you find the best alternative.

Your baby knows when they are hungry and when they have had too much to eat. You must respect their appetite and never force them to finish what is on their plate. Just like adults, your baby may have more appetite on one day than on another and may not always want to finish what you give them for various reasons. Nonetheless, it is important to make sure they have an appetite at mealtimes by restricting how much they snack between meals and always offer them age-appropriate sized portions.

Dietary diversification generally starts between 4 and 6 months. Certain signs indicate that your baby is ready to accept other foods apart from milk, particularly the fact that they seem to be very interested in what you have on your plate and watch you eat by following your movements. They may also mime chewing and they know how to let you know that they have had enough to eat. Diversification takes place slowly. Different products are introduced progressively and with certain textures.

For more information and advice on dietary diversification, take a look at our tools:

Rest assured, a baby who is still hungry will quickly let you know. A baby who is full also knows how to show it it you! It is important to respect baby’s rhythms and their signs that they are full. Never force them if they are not hungry. If the quantities prescribed by your doctor don’t correspond with what your baby actually consumes, don’t hesitate to talk to them about it.

Making up a bottle is very easy. There is nothing complicated about it, you just need to apply a few hygiene rules and use the right quantities. Don’t hesitate to take a look at our detailed illustrated tutorial and you’ll soon be making up bottles like a pro!

After 12 months, other foods can be introduced into baby’s diet and quantities can be increased. For more information, refer to our calendar of flavours and textures.

Furthermore, milk is still an essential part of baby’s diet after 12 months. It is therefore recommended that between the ages of 12 and 36 months, you continue to give baby a 3rd stage growth milk, specially formulated to fulfil the nutritional requirements of babies in this age range: they are low in protein and contain the nutrients that baby may be lacking, such as iron and essential fatty acids.

After 6 months, infant milk is still just as important! Between 6 and 12 months, it is possible to give baby a 2nd stage follow-on milk.

Additionally, at 6 months at the latest, dietary diversification has started and baby can be given different foods in addition to milk (breast milk or infant milk). For more advice on what baby can eat between 6 and 12 months, quantities and textures, refer to our calendar of flavours and textures.

Nactalia follows WHO recommendations and encourages exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. If you cannot or do not wish to breastfeed, talk to your doctor who will be able to prescribe a suitable 1st stage milk. Between 4 and 6 months, baby’s diet can be diversified and other foods can be given to baby, provided that they are a suitable texture. For more advice, follow our calendar of flavours and textures.

Up to the age of 3, baby has very specific nutritional needs. In particular they need more iron, calcium and essential fatty acids than an adult.

“Normal” milk, or cows milk, which the whole family drinks is generally too rich in proteins and lacking in iron for baby. Infant formula fulfils their needs more effectively.

Between 1 and 3 years, the dairy equivalent to be consumed is 500ml/day. The minimum recommended amount of growth milk (which is specially formulated to provide all of the nutritional requirements of babies in this age range) is 300 ml/day, which is then supplemented with other dairy products to make the recommended 500ml.

Cows milk does not fulfil the specific nutritional requirements of baby before the age of 1.

Between 1 and 3 years, cows milk can be given to baby, but it is preferable to continue with growing-up milks : they contain less protein and all of the nutrients which baby may be lacking, such as iron and essential fatty acids.

Between 0 and 6 months, opt for exclusive breastfeeding and if you cannot or choose not to breastfeed, seek the advice of your doctor. Between 6 and 12 months, it is possible to give baby a 2nd stage follow-on milk. Between 1 and 3 years, it is preferable/advisable to give baby a 3rd stage growth milk.

Progressing from the breast to the bottle corresponds with weaning baby, or in other words is the moment when baby stops breastfeeding and starts using a bottle or starts to have a more varied diet if they are between 4 and 6 months old. It is an obligatory step that can take place very calmly if the transition is managed gently.

To guide you in this transition and help you wean baby gently, we have prepared lots of advice and tips which you can find in our article “A gentle transition for successful weaning”. For even more advice, take a look at our tools for mothers:

Each infant milk has a different flavour and it takes time for baby’s body to adapt. It is recommended that you introduce the new formula progressively, alternating it with the previous one.

Weight gain is not significantly different between breastfed children and those fed with a bottle. Additionally, regular, continuous weight gain is fundamental during baby’s first months. There is no need to worry, each baby is different and grows at their own rate. However, if you are concerned about your baby’s weight, don’t hesitate to talk to your paediatrician.

If you have chosen industrial infant milk, it does not usually cause intestinal gas.
However, if your child is suffering from minor physiological problems such as intestinal gas, certain milks have been specifically formulated to reflect these requirements. For example, Nactalia AD-LF milk has been specially formulated to help babies who are sensitive to lactose to recover from the temporary or permanent symptoms of lactose intolerance, such as intestinal gas, irritation and diarrhoea.
We recommend seeking the advice of your doctor.

Note that intestinal gas may also be the result of colic since babies cry a lot and swallow air

Food allergies are common in children.
Breastfeeding remains the best protection against allergies. Even if breast milk only provides partial protection against the risk of future allergies, no infant formula does any better.
Additionally, if you have chosen an industrial milk, it may be that your child is allergic or intolerant to the lactose or the cows milk protein present in the milk that you have chosen. Solutions are available for children who are sensitive to this kind of allergy, such as the milks containing extensively hydrolysed proteins which have proven to be effective in clinical studies.

However, if this is the case and before doing anything else, we recommend that you consult your doctor.

If you have chosen industrial infant milk, it does not usually cause constipation.
However, if your child is suffering from minor physiological problems such as constipation, certain milks have been specifically formulated to reflect these requirements. For example, Nactalia COMFORT milk has been specially formulated for the dietary treatment of intestinal problems such as constipation.
Before choosing your milk, we recommend seeking the advice of your doctor.

If you observe minor physiological problems in your baby, such as colic, regurgitation, constipation or diarrhoea, this can mean that the infant milk you are using is not fulfilling the requirements of your baby (even if gastrointestinal problems are very common during the first few months of life).

In any case, there is no reason to worry, solutions are available! But before choosing, we recommend that you consult your doctor.

The quantity of milk baby requires each day depends on their age. Note that Nactalia follows WHO recommendations and encourages exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. For more information on how much milk to give your baby each day, you will find instructions on your Nactalia box indicating the volume of water and number of measuring scoops to give your baby depending on their age.

It is important to note that these quantities are only averages that need to be adapted to reflect your baby’s appetite and how quickly they gain weight.

Never force your baby to finish their bottle if they don’t seem to want to: just like you, there are times when they will be hungrier than others. It is may be that they leave half of their bottle at one meal and then want more milk at the next meal: let them eat in accordance with their requirements! Similarly, the times that they want eat and the intervals between bottles can also vary: it is important to respect baby’s rhythm.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months as breast milk is the optimal form of nutrition for a baby.

If you cannot or do not wish to breastfeed, it will be necessary to choose an infant formula suited to the child’s age. These infant formula fulfil their nutritional requirements, both in terms of macronutrients (lipids, carbohydrates, proteins) and micro nutrients (vitamins, iron, zinc and other minerals…), as well as the absolutely essential provision of calcium.

Do not hesitate to contact your doctor to advise you in your choice of milk.

Breastfeeding is the best way of fulfilling baby’s specific requirements. This is why Nactalia encourages and recommends breastfeeding up until the age of 6 months. If you cannot or choose not to breastfeed, your doctor is the most suitable person to advise you.

Attentive to the needs of mothers and their babies, our scientific teams have studied in depth the composition of breast milk and have devoted their efforts to formulating infant milk formulas that best meet the baby’s natural needs and specific metabolism.

Nactalia offers a range of different formulas to provide the necessary nutrients to ensure your baby grows and develops healthily.

Making sure that baby grows healthily is the n°1 concern for parents!
And achieving this starts in the very first days of life, ensuring that baby gains weight, regularly, every month.
Breastfeeding is the best way of fulfilling baby’s nutritional requirements. However, if you can’t or don’t want to breastfeed, the infant milk formulas of Nactalia have been formulated to provide baby with all the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

Each child has their own specific requirements and children do not gain weight in the same way. So don’t worry!
But if you are feeling overly concerned about your baby’s weight, then talk to your paediatrician.

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