All parents want the best for their new baby. Good nutrition allows parents to give their baby a healthy head start.
Often, parents don’t think about how they can influence their infant’s health, including their infant’s immune system development through nutrition. Below are a few tips for parents to help support the development of an infant’s immune system during pregnancy and the first year.
* During pregnancy: A mom should remember that what she eats affects her child before and after birth. A good source of vitamins and minerals and proper hydration will help a mom-to-be stay healthy.
To support an infant’s immune system development, experts recommend that pregnant women eat protein-rich foods such as soy, lean meats and legumes and foods rich in antioxidants like broccoli, red potatoes and blueberries.
* The first year: Before birth, a developing baby receives antibodies from its mother. Maternal antibodies provide initial immune protection to the developing infant, but rapidly decline after birth. A baby begins to develop its own antibodies as the mother’s begin to wear off.
One reason why breast-feeding is recommended for at least the first year of life is because a mother’s breast milk is the only way she can pass immune-protecting antibodies to her infant after birth.
“These antibodies help keep an infant healthy,” said Bridget Swinney, dietitian, mother of two and author of “Healthy Food for Healthy Kids: A Practical and Tasty Guide to Your Child’s Nutrition.” “But if a mom chooses to feed infant formula or supplement, she should find an iron-fortified infant formula similar to breast milk, like Similac Advance.”
Some infant formulas provide specific breast milk compounds called nucleotides. Clinical research shows that Similac Advance’s patented blend of nucleotides helps support the development of a baby’s immune system.