Protein is one of the most important nutrients not only for your baby’s growth but also for their health and development.
Interestingly, almost every aspect of your baby’s growth is partly dependent on protein:
- It is an essential component of our muscles, organs, enzymes, hormones, blood, skin, hair and more.
- Babies need more protein per kg in bodyweight compared to children and adults to help keep up with their speedy growth and development.
- The protein in breast milk has a quantity and quality to match what babies need at each stage of development.
Protein is so crucial that experts say the quality and quantity of proteins your baby gets in early life could impact their future health.
Does breast milk have protein?
YES! Breast milk proteins are the building blocks of life.
Have you wondered - How to improve my breast milk quality?, or Does diet affect breast milk quality? There is no need to worry about your baby’s breast milk protein content or breast milk protein quality as nature takes care of how much protein in breast milk. Breast milk quality means it provides just the right mix of high quality protein in the amounts needed for your growing baby.
In fact, researchers consider that protein in breast milk plays a potential role in reducing the risk of becoming overweight later in life. Optimal protein quantity and quality supports healthy growth including normal weight gain, which is associated with a reduced risk of later overweight and obesity.
Breast Milk Protein Quantity
Breast milk is truly amazing! Did you know that breast milk nutrition changes depending on the age of your baby? This is because you baby’s growth and development needs change over time. One of the crucial elements that adjusts in response to these changes in growth is protein. When very young, your baby will drink small quantities of breast milk, so during this time, the protein content per 100mL of breast milk is high to ensure your baby’s rapid growth is supported. As your baby gets older, they will drink larger quantities of breast milk so the protein content per 100mL goes down. This is so they don’t consume more protein than what their body needs as excess protein in early life has been linked to later obesity. The levels of protein in breast milk is thought to be one of the key factors in reducing the risk of later obesity.
Breast Milk Quality
Protein is made of smaller components called amino acids. Each amino acid plays a specific role in your baby’s health and development, and each are required in specific quantities. It is the combination of these amino acids in just the right quantities that defines the quality of proteins.
It is the unique quality and quantity of breast milk protein that makes it so special.
What about breast milk allergy?
Our immune system is responsible for filtering everything we come into contact with – from food, to dust particles, to bacteria. In some people, the immune system can trigger a reaction against harmless substances, such as a food protein. If it does, this is known as an allergic reaction or allergy.
One of the many benefits of breast milk is that it has a low allergenic potential. This means that babies have a natural ability to recognise breast milk protein as harmless and as such avoids triggering an allergic reaction against it. However, some babies may react to small amounts of protein from the mother’s diet that pass through into breastmilk. In rare cases, modification of the mother’s diet may be necessary, and advice should be sought from a healthcare professional.
It has been long recognised that proteins found in foods may cause allergic reactions in some people. From the introduction of solid foods until about three years of age, the most common allergenic foods are: cow’s milk (dairy), egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish and other seafood.
If you suspect your child may have breast milk allergy symptoms, you should always seek your doctor’s advice as soon as possible. Some allergies can be easier to manage, and you won’t need to change too much, but others may need a lot more attention and medical intervention. It’s important to get on top of allergy management as early as possible.