Which milk to choose for the baby?

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Philippe Gloaguen
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As for all mammals, milk is the first and most important food for human puppies, both in the first months of life and a little further on, when weaning has begun and the baby eats more. Unlike other mammals, however, we have various types of milk to offer our babies, from breast milk to formula, from cow's milk to that of other mammals to so-called plant-based drinks. Here is a small guide on how to orient yourself in your choice.



The first six months of life

We start from a premise: at birth and beyond, before and after six months, but also before and after the year of life, breast milk is always recommended for babies. It is the biological norm of course (every mammal produces the 'perfect' milk for its pup) and its consumption is associated with multiple short and long term health benefits for the mother and baby.



Read also: Obesity and children: WHO invites us to focus on breastfeeding to prevent it

Having made this necessary premise, we remind you that the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. If for any reason the baby is not breastfed, the choice to make is that of formula or formula milk, in particular the so-called formula 1, whose composition tries to be as similar as possible to that of human milk.



Read also: Artificial milk, how to choose it and how to prepare it

Artificial formulas are not all the same: the Ministry of Health indicates composition limits, within which each manufacturer proposes its own recipe, perhaps adding substances that research gradually indicates as fundamental components of breast milk (from oligosaccharides to probiotics to nucleotides). Obviously with cost differences that can also be significant. However, it must be said that there is still no scientific evidence that a richer or particular composition, which on paper might look better, is actually associated with positive effects on children's health.



The special formulas
If the child has any particular needs, you can choose the so-called special formulas: for example type 0 formula for premature babies, milk with low content of highly hydrolyzed (i.e. shredded) proteins for babies at risk of allergies, special milks for digestive problems such as colic, constipation, diarrhea or gastroesophageal reflux.

From six months of the year

Again, the recommended milk is breast milk. And, again, if for any reason there is no breastfeeding, the most appropriate solution is always formulated milk: the so-called follow-on milk, or formula 2.

And instead cow's milk strongly not recommended. According to the European Society of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Pediatric Nutrition (Espghan), "cow's milk should not be used as the main drink before 12 months, while small amounts are allowed in addition to food preparations" (such as mashed potatoes or bechamel, Editor's note). This is because cow's milk is too rich in protein (and excess protein from the first two years of life is associated with an increased risk of obesity in childhood) and too low in iron. Furthermore, some studies suggest that the consumption of cow's milk before the year of life may favor the appearance of intestinal microhemorrhages, promoting the risk of anemia.

Read also: Milk for babies before 12 months: why avoid the vaccine

Donkey or goat milk: can it be done?

If we are talking about older children, over two years old, these foods can certainly find a place in the diet as part of any family food traditions. If, on the other hand, we are talking about younger children, remember that the goat milk it has a high protein content, so the recommendations for its consumption are the same as for cow's milk (not recommended in the first year, with some caution in the second).

Less protein and closer to the composition of human milk is that instead of donkey. On the doctor's advice, it can be used in the diet of infants allergic to cow's milk proteins or multiallergic to cow's milk, soy, rice and formulas with protein hydrolysates.

Read also: Donkey or goat milk, yes or no?

Milk after 12 months

When the first candle is blown out, the opinions on milk are more suitable for children - always if it is not available that of mom, which still remains that recommended up to two years and over if mother and child wish - become discordant.

Some believe that cow's milk is fine, as long as it is contained in small quantities - no more than 200-400 ml per day according to the indications of the Ministry of Health - especially if we are still talking about a small child, who has just passed the year of life. . Others believe that at least up to 24 months it is still better to resort to formulated milk, called in this case formula 3 or growth milk, considered more "fit" for children.

For still others, the right way lies somehow in the middle, that is to not get too stuck on one choice or the other: "After the year, the choice of milk is not a problem" the neonatologist told mymodernparents.com Riccardo Davanzo, president of the technical table of the Ministry of health for breastfeeding.

"While scientific research has now amply demonstrated that breast milk is a concentrate of nutritional factors and that it is good to promote breastfeeding at least up to the 12th month, because it reduces the risk of obesity, the risk of cot death and the development of allergies and other diseases, there are not as many studies to argue that cow's milk or growth milk is better afterwards".

“So let's not create a doctrinal castle on the choice between one milk and another. Personally, I have never prescribed growth milk, but if parents opt for this choice, I am not saying that it is bad. Just as you do not have to bandage your head if your children refuse milk: there is nothing in milk that cannot also be found in other foods ".

Read also: Milk for babies after 12 months Vegetable drinks
They are drinks of vegetable origin, derived from soy, rice, but also from millet, oats or other cereals. They can find space, as drinks as they are or for food preparations, as part of a vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous diet after the year of life.

However, they should not be used as a substitute for breast milk or specific formulas, especially before six months of life: in this case, parents who choose a vegan diet for their children can choose specific formulas for babies prepared from vegetable proteins instead of cow's milk. 62 PHOTOS

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  • child diet
  • breast milk
  • breastfeeding
  • artificial milk
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