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Nutrition Supports the Development of the Immune System

Breastmilk plays an important role in supporting the development of your baby’s immune system, helping defend them against germs and viruses. After breastfeeding, a healthy diet goes a long way in strengthening the child’s own defenses.

Breastmilk is made up of a unique set of nutrients, which form the perfect food for your baby. The most important nutrients are present in breastmilk in exactly the right amounts and quality. These provide energy for growth and support the development of the brain, eyesight, the digestive system and a strong immune system.

Colostrum – the first milk produced in the first few days after birth – is especially nutritious. It contains maternal antibodies, an abundance of proteins, minerals, vitamins as well as so called “scavenger cells” which kill off bacteria and fungi.

Breastmilk is important for defending your baby against infections, while their own immune system is still in development.  Breastfed babies’ intestinal flora is particularly rich in “good” bacteria (e.g. bifidobacteria and lactobacilli). These bacteria also help promote immune defense. This is important because the intestine is responsible for more than just digestion — it also contributes to a healthy immune system.

Prebiotics in breastmilk feed the good bacteria in the intestine, protecting your baby against germs. Breastmilk is important for defending the baby against viruses, which could make them sick and supporting the development their own immune system. That’s why breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your baby’s immunity.

Baby food — feeding your baby's immune system

If possible, you should exclusively breastfeed your baby for their first six months.

At around 6 months they will be ready to start another milestone in their development -the introduction of baby food. During this phase you can continue to support your baby’s natural immune system by giving them a balanced and healthy baby food diet. Foods which contain vitamin C, iron and zinc are especially good for their immune system.

While your baby is in fact born with an iron reserve, this is used up during the first few months and by 6 months it’s not enough for them to have breastmilk alone. Meat, eggs and whole wheat products contain a lot of iron. The grain millet is also a good source of iron.

The trace element Zinc, found in fish and whole wheat products, is also very important for every immune process.

Combine Iron-rich foods with Vitamin C

Did you know that vitamin C helps the body absorb iron from food? We recommend combining iron-rich foods with fruit and vegetable sources of vitamin C.

Further Reading

Your first breastfeed with your newborn happens as soon as is possible after birth. This precious time is an opportunity to bond with your new baby and gives them ‘colostrum’.

After 6 months old, if you’d like to make your own baby food from scratch, we’ll show you how to give your baby all the nutrients they need.

Important notice

By clicking on the "Continue" button, you can learn more about infant nutrition. If you choose to continue, you agree that Danone is supplying this information at your individual request for information purposes.

Breastmilk is the ideal food for infants: it is best adapted to their specific needs. A healthy and balanced diet of the mother is important for the preparation and continuation of breastfeeding. Mixed breastfeeding can interfere with breastfeeding and reduce milk production. It’s hard to reverse the choice of not breastfeeding. If an infant formula is used for a non-breastfed baby, it is important to carefully observe the instructions for preparation and use and to follow the advice of the medical profession. Incorrect use could pose a risk to the child’s health. Socio-economic implications must be considered in the use of infant formula. After 6 months, in addition to breastmilk, water is the only essential drink. Do not hesitate to consult your health care professional if you need advice on feeding your baby.