Why formula instead of cow’s milk?

Parents often ask why cow’s milk is not the best option for their little one. The answer is simple: babies or young children can’t digest cow’s milk as completely or as easily as breast milk or formula.

The Nutrition Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of cow’s milk for two reasons: allergies and iron deficiency anemia.

The intestinal lining takes more time to mature in some babies than others. Although lactose intolerance is not so common in babies, some toddlers can develop diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain because they are unable to digest the lactose sugar in milk. Some toddlers can develop milk allergies, meaning that their immune system, which normally fights infections, overreacts to proteins in cow’s milk and thus fights these proteins thinking they are harmful invaders.

Another reason as to why cows’ milk is not beneficial to infants is that it lacks the proper amount of vitamins and minerals needed for an optimal growth and development, such as vitamin E, zinc and iron. Why is iron so important for an infant? It helps the body create red blood cells, and a decreased level of red blood cells causes anemia. Babies do have enough iron in their bodies but by 3-4 months of age, the amount of iron supply gets depleted and extra iron is required in the infant’s diet.

Instead of offering cow’s milk, you can offer an iron-fortified growth formula like Nestlé® Excella Gold to your child if he or she is 1 year or older. It is important to mention that exclusive breastfeeding is recommended during the six months of your little one’s life, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond. Always consult your doctor to help you choose the best option for your child.

 

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Making everyday moments meaningful

It’s those special serve and return interactions between a parent and a child that make everyday moments so meaningful.

Reading: Reading to your baby from birth helps foster linguistic skills, increasing vocabulary acquisition. Research shows that when parents read to their children, children develop a love for books which later translates into strong reading skills. Additionally, when you spend time reading with your little one, they’ll be much more likely to express themselves and relate to others in a healthy way.

Play: Play is how infants test their ideas and learn new skills. Babies and toddlers are eager to comprehend the way the world works and through play they learn the basic skills of communication, problem solving, testing ideas and getting along with others. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive and emotional growth. It allows children to explore the world, practice adult roles and gain confidence.” Continue reading

Phospholipids and their importance for development

Phospholipids are a class of lipids that are a major component of cell membranes. Traditionally, lipids were considered a great source of energy during lactation, nowadays they are also known to play a prominent role during brain development.

How are these molecules beneficial and why are they an essential nutrient for optimal development?

Phospholipids are amphipathic lipids: they consist of a hydrophilic (or ‘water loving’) head and a hydrophobic (or ‘water fearing’) tail. Phospholipids like to line up and arrange themselves into two parallel layers called phospholipid bilayer – this layer makes up your cell membranes and is critical for the cell’s ability to function. They even activate the enzymes acting as messengers in the transmission of signals inside the cells and regulate cholesterol. They also stimulate the development, migration and differentiation of nerve cells. Continue reading

My Baby’s First Words

Babies learn to talk by imitation. We do not need to teach them word by word, all we have to do is talk constantly to them. By naming the objects and people they see they will begin to associate the word with the object or person. Then when they develop the adequate skills for speech they will begin to repeat those words to form their first words.

Generally speaking, a baby’s first word is “mama” or “papa/dada” but when this words are first spoken they are merely babbles don’t mean that they have learned to associate “dada” with dad or “mama” with mom. After babies learn to pronounce disyllables such as the examples above, you might hear them experiment with different sounds, and although none have true meaning just yet they are preparing to communicate verbally. Some babies as early as 9 months begin to form word-like sounds, but if your little one is not there yet be patient, most babies begin to speak words with meaning roughly around 11 to 16 months of age. It’s even considered normal for babies not to speak until 18 months of age. When babies begin to pronounce words with meaning, “mama” or “dada” will actually mean “mom” or “dad” – such a sweet sound to a parent’s ear! Continue reading

Creating a positive learning environment at home

 

Babies’ brains are like sponges – they are constantly absorbing, forming new ideas from stimuli in their environment. That’s how they learn. According to a recent study from NYU, there are a few things you can do to create a strong learning environment at home.

The study followed a group of children from birth through 5th grade, tracking the influence of early home learning environments on later cognitive skills. Researchers found that the learning environment at home plays a powerful role in shaping kids’ cognitive and linguistic abilities. They found that a strong learning environment has three main features: quality parent-child interactions, the availability of learning materials, and children’s participation in learning activities. Let’s break them down.

Quality interactions: Spend quality time with your little one every day. Sit and play on the floor, talk to him or her – engage! When you’re playing together, let him or her lead and then join in on whatever catches his or her attention. Point to objects he or she is watching and name them. Respond to your little one’s cues promptly – like identifying if he or she is hungry or in need of a diaper change. It’s important that your baby feels secure so that he or she is willing to explore his or her environment. Continue reading

Choline: What is it and why is it essential?

There are certain nutrients that are essential to your little one’s health and well-being. Like choline. But, what is choline and why is it an essential nutrient?

Choline is part of the complex B vitamin group. The body itself produces choline but not enough of it, which is why it’s important to consume foods that are rich in it.

Choline has a great capacity to affect the nervous system and the brain function. It also aids in producing acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that participates in brain memory. Babies receive this nutrient in the womb given that it is a key element in constructing the cell membrane structure – an essential process during fetal development. Scientists are now beginning to understand how choline intake during pregnancy affects brain development.

This nutrient is found especially in foods like milk, liver, eggs, and peanuts as well as poultry, fish, and grains. Breast milk also contains choline as well as some growth formulas, such as Nestlé®  Excella®  Gold. Make sure your little one’s diet includes elements that are rich in this essential nutrient.

 

Sources:

  • https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782876/

The effects of added sugar on complementary nutrition

Kid’s consumption of industrialized foods has caused a major distortion in their taste preferences and eating habits.

During the first year of life, breast milk gives rise to the formation of habits and food preferences that are difficult to modify later in life. This is why an ideal complementary feeding plays a key role. The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that from the first moments in which the child receives complementary food, essential habits are acquired that benefit taste preferences. For this reason, it is not advisable to add sweeteners of any kind in children’s foods. Offering products with large amounts of added sugar causes them to develop a preference for sweeter foods.

The flavors acquired during early stages of life, become lifetime habits and a preference for sweeter foods can put them at greater risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol – three major contributors to heart disease. Continue reading

Vitamin B complex and their benefits

Vitamin B complex is extremely beneficial for kids. While B vitamins are essential for the human body, they are more so for kids in their growing years. Why? Vitamin B complex encourages mental and physical growth in children in their early formative years.

There are 8 principal vitamins that make up the vitamin B complex:

  1. Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Plays a role in the release of energy in your child’s body and it protects the nervous system from any kind of damage or degeneration.
  2. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  3. Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  4. Vitamin B5 (panthothenic acid)
  5. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Promotes bone health and helps maintain the nervous system, it produces red blood cells and encourages proper function of certain hormones.
  6. Vitamin B7 (biotin): It helps in keeping calm and maintaining a healthy nervous system. It is also essential in maintaining healthy hair and nails.
  7. Vitamin B9 (folic acid): Helps prevent certain birth defects as it assists in blood cell production and helps the synthesis of DNA.
  8. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): aids in the production of red blood cells and maintains the nerve cell function.

Continue reading

Is your child overactive? You might want to read this!

Children are often told to sit still. This happens everywhere, and it’s necessary sometimes like at school, during mealtime, and at home and when they don’t, we often believe that they are misbehaving or that we as parents may be doing something wrong. When children become overstimulated, their high energy levels can often go through the roof. What can you do to help your little one calm down and focus?

  1. Let your child fidget
    • Your child can simply be bored and may feel the need to stand up and move around. A small amount of physical movement can help a child focus more. Loren Shlaes, a pediatric occupational therapist in New York City suggests allowing a child to hold a fidget toy such as a stress ball.
  2. Go outside
    • Moving around is a good way of helping your child pay attention so the more activity the better. Playing outside stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin – both neurotransmitters that are critical for attention, focus, impulse control and learning. Some children focus and listen so much better after taking a walk or just being around nature. Dr Swanson suggests children spend at least an hour a day outdoors. A recent study at Auburn University found a single 30-minute stint of exercise helped preschooler’s ability to pay attention in class, compared with being sedentary. Continue reading

Exactly how big a deal is drawing?

With the sudden boom on computers, tablets, and phones as convenient playtime devices, it seems we’ve lost a little touch of one of the most basic activities that can further develop your little one’s fine motor skills.

Between the age of 12 and 18 months, it’s possible your baby will want to write and draw anywhere he finds, be sure to encourage him to give it a try, directing his attention to an appropriate canvas! There is endless research that suggests drawing, doodling and scribbling play a larger role in child development than we first thought.

What are some of the benefits of drawing? 

  • Further develop your little one’s motor skills such as holding and hand-eye coordination, both of which will ultimately help him dominate writing and drawing on a higher level.
  • Get those creative juices flowing!
  • Even though they’re still young, children need outlets where they can express themselves, drawing is a perfect way to do so.
  • They can learn in a visual and easy way differences and similarities in shapes, colors, and sizes.
  • Understanding that when pen hits paper a mark is made, your little one gets to experience cause and effect first hand.
  • Drawing can serve as a great distraction and has been shown to improve mood.
  • Encouraging your child’s creativity has benefits in their ability to solve problems later on.
  • When kids feel good while creating something totally new it helps boost their self-confidence and later on, will feel the freedom to experiment and create new ways of thinking or doing something.

There are different ways to encourage your child’s creativity, independence and artistic skills. The following are just of a few of the infinite possibilities: Continue reading