Breastfeeding The dietary recommendations for infants are based on the nutritional content of human breast milk. Carbohydrates make up about 45 to 65 percent of the caloric content in breast milk. Protein makes up about 5 to 20 percent of the caloric content of breast milk. About 30 to 40 percent of the caloric content in breast milk is made up of fat. A diet in high unsaturated fat is necessary to encourage the development of neural pathways in the brain and other parts of the body. Almost all of the nutrients that infants require can be met if they consume an adequate amount of breast milk. There are a few exceptions, though. Human milk is low in vitamin D, which is needed for calcium absorption and building bone, among other things. Breast milk is also low in vitamin K, which is required for blood clotting, and deficits could lead to bleeding or hemorrhagic disease. Infants are born with limited vitamin K, so supplementation may be needed initially and some states require a vitamin K injection after birth. Also, breast milk is not high in iron, but the iron in breast milk is well absorbed by infants. After four to six months, however, an infant needs an additional source of iron other than breast milk. Therefore, breastfed children often need to take a vitamin D supplement in the form of drops.
Supporting Breastfeeding in Early Care and Education Early care and education programs play an important role in supporting breastfeeding All staff members—despite their comfort or experience with breastfeeding—play an important role in breastfeeding promotion. They have an opportunity to share the facts about breastfeeding with families, and to help them decide what’s best for them and their babies.5 You can support breastfeeding mothers when you:
Talk about why breastfeeding is so good for their infant.
Tell them you want to care for breastfed infants and support breastfeeding mothers.
Share other places in the community they can go to for help with breastfeeding.
Share and discuss resources about breastfeeding.
Try to time feedings to the mother’s schedule (being sure to respond to the infant’s needs and cues).
Offer a place to nurse that is comfortable, quiet, and private.
Communicate about their infant’s day.