How does breast milk "change" over time? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 10-30-2005, 03:15 AM - Thread Starter
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I've heard that the composition of breast milk changes over time - so the milk a 6 week old gets is different from that of a 6 month old, or a 16 month old, but I can't find specific information on this.

I am trying to do a bit of research because after a significant slow-down in weight gain, our daughter's pediatrician told us that at 15 months my milk isn't providing much in the way of nutrition for my daughter anymore, so this pediatrician wants me to cut way back on the number of times I let my daughter nurse. She said to give her a really high fat diet - whole milk, chicken fingers, fish sticks, butter on everything, etc.

I'm not taking her advice about cutting back on nursing, because it seems like stupid advice to me, but I want more information in case it comes up yet again. Thankfully my husband, who was there, said later that "there's no way a McNugget is better for her than nursing," so he supports my desicion.

The pediatrician did say that this slow-down in weight gain is typical in breastfed babies (which I already knew) but she says this is because breastfed toddlers aren't getting proper nutrition.

My daughter still nurses on demand, and it's fairly often, including at night. I don't "count" nursing sessions, because they can be as short as 20 seconds or as long as an hour, and there's no way to add that up meaningfully.

She also eats meals with us (little pieces of what we are having), and she snacks between meals (mostly grains and fruit). I have a hard time getting high protein foods into her - she won't drink cow's milk, and has lost interest in cheese and yogurt, though I continue to offer them. She just started on soymilk and kefir, and is interested enough in those to drink a few sips, but not much more.

I didn't mean to go on and on. I guess I just wanted to give a fuller picture of my daughter's diet - even though the pediatrician didn't ask me a SINGLE question about it! Anyway, if anyone can point me to any information on the composition of breastmilk for toddlers I would really appreciate it!
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#2 of 5 Old 10-30-2005, 01:15 PM
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Here is an extended bfeeding fact sheet:

It includes the information:

Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet
In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
29% of energy requirements
43% of protein requirements
36% of calcium requirements
75% of vitamin A requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
60% of vitamin C requirements
Also on kellymom:
Breastmilk Composition

Breastmilk whole cow's milk 2% cow's milk
cholesterol 43 mg/cup 33 mg/cup 18 mg/cup
fat 11.2 g/cup 8 g/cup 5 g/cup

IME, there is no reason to think that the fat content of bmilk reduces by 30% after one year. In fact, many studies have shown that as baby weans the nutrients in bmilk become *more* concentrated (so they are recieving the same amount in less volume).

Bfed babies/toddlers are growing how children are *supposed* to grow. How their individual body is *supposed* to grow. While many children double their birthweight in 4-6 months, it often takes 6-8 months for the tripling and it can be years before they quadruple their weight.

My children have always been healthy.

doubled = 4.5 months
tripled = 2 years
quadrupled = 3.25 years

doubled = 3.5 months
tripled = 18 months
quadrupled = 3.25 years

Growth HAS to slow down. THAT is healthy. If children maintained their rate of weight gain from the first six months (and assume that is not *that* quick, but simply doubling by 6 months) an 8 lb baby would weigh 16 lbs at 6 months, 32 lbs at one year, 64 lbs at 18 months, etc...

If they simply maintained the amount of gain, they would weigh 16 months at 6 months, 24 lbs at a year, 32 lbs at 18 months, 40 lbs at two years, 48 lbs at 2.5 and 54 lbs at 3. *THIS* is the rate of gain your pediatrician is saying is "healthy" (ie, no plateu). It is NOT. Children are *not* supposed to gain 16 lbs a year throughout their childhood. Heck, not even toddlerhood. While the average baby gains something like 14 lbs their first year, that is supposed to drop down to the range of 5 lbs the 2nd year and often drops down even further.

According to the CDC weight charts, the "average" girl (50%) will weigh aropund 7.5 lbs at birth and 15.75 lbs at 6 months (this is not the bfed baby chart, you'll notice, which would have shown a quicker weight gain over those months). So a gain of 8.25 lbs in 6 months. The next 6 months would see a gain of right around 5.25 lbs to right around 21 lbs. (so three less pounds in that 6 month period! which would be even more dramatic for a bfed baby). At 18 months that "average" child would have gained just over 3 lbs, bringing their total weight to just over 24 lbs (so over 2 lbs LESS again over that three month period).

The pediatrician did say that this slow-down in weight gain is typical in breastfed babies (which I already knew) but she says this is because breastfed toddlers aren't getting proper nutrition.
This is simply incorrect. *All* toddlers grow slower than they did as babies (well, the vast majority). That is healthy and expected. Why it is more obvious in bfed toddlers (and by "toddlers" I mean children who are bfed past 6 months) is that their early weights are "artificially" () inflated on very early growth charts. Humans are *supposed* to grow extreamly quickly from birth to 4-6 months and slow down from then. Formula fed babies (which the charts are primarily based on, esp after 3 months since it proportional representation even on new charts) instead grow linerally (NOT healthy) for almost the entire first year. Even, then, though, you still see (in the CDC charts) that ALL babies do slow down!

I *cannot* believe a doctor in this day and age would suggest fried foods as a way to increase fat intake--- at least consider avacados if you want to increase fat! And healthy oils. I have not done research recently, but when my DD was young (she is now always 7) the *ultimate* diet for a 12 month old was considered to still be getting *at least* 75% of calories from bmilk.

Replacing bmilk with cow's milk will NOT increase your child's fat intake. It simply won't. Just as so many peds recommend increased solids at 6 months to increase calorie intake--- replacing full fat milk with no-fat fruit, veggies & low-fat grains generally. They just don't know better. But, IMO, since they are being *paid* to know better they sure as heck should.



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#3 of 5 Old 10-31-2005, 02:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all that information - I was actually looking on before I posted my question here, but I was looking in the area where they cover milk supply.

For the first 6 months, my daughter was in the 90-95%ile weight range on the ped's charts, and now she's in the 5-10%ile range. But her weight curve actually looks okay compared to the breastfed baby curves that I've seen.
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#4 of 5 Old 11-01-2005, 12:55 PM
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Here's an interesting link with an article about a study that showed that the fat content of breastmilk increases the longer you nurse. It appeared in a recent issue of Pediatrics so peds have had access to this info yet they are still saying breastmilk isn't nutritious after one year!!
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#5 of 5 Old 11-04-2005, 09:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Velcormom, thanks for the article link. that was just what I was looking for.

Right after the last ped. visit, I was even thinking of trying to get a lab to analyze my milk!

I'm going to try to find the actual study and bring a copy to my daughter's next ped appt.
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