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What’s so unique about breast milk?

Breastmilk is the original superfood

Your breast milk is totally unique to you. Its composition is determined by a mixture of factors, including your diet, hormones, genetics and environmental influences. Amazingly, it also changes with your baby’s individual needs.

Tailor-made for your baby

It is not yet known exactly how breast milk is innately tailored to you and your baby. That’s why we’re committed to continuous research into this natural marvel. However, we do know that the fat content of breast milk increases during each feed. It also changes to reflect environmental factors, so it contains more water if the weather is hot.

Baby boys consume more of their mother’s milk than girls1. And surprisingly, the breast milk produced for boys contains 25% more calories than for girls. For more information, see the seven wonders of breast milk.

Breast milk composition

Research2 has shown that 87.5% of breast milk is made up of water. The rest contains different components, including various carbohydrates, fats, proteins and minerals. During a feed, breast milk changes colour and becomes thicker as the amount of energy it contains gradually increases.

Around 87.5% of breast milk is made up of water.

Complete nutrition

‘Foremilk3,4’ – the first milk of a breastfeeding session is packed with all the carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins a baby needs. As a result of its high water composition, it also protects exclusively breastfed babies from dehydration.

The ‘hindmilk’ produced towards the end of a breastfeeding session looks thicker and is darker in colour. This is because its energy and fat content increases as the feed goes on, allowing babies to take on enough energy to go longer between feeds.

The first milk of a breastfeeding session is packed with all the carbohydrates, protein and vitamins a baby needs.

Worried about breastfeeding?

It’s completely normal to find breastfeeding a little tricky at first, but our breastfeeding guide is full of tips and advice to help you succeed.

  1. Powe CE et al. Am J Hum Biol 2010;22(1):50-4.

  2. Martin, C., Ling, P. and Blackburn, G. Nutrients, 2016;8(5):279.

  3. Hartmann PE. Mammary gland: Past, present, and future. In: Hale & Hartmann’s Textbook of Human Lactation. Amarillo, TX: Hale Publishing, 2007:3-16.

  4. Mizuno et al. Int Breastfeed J 2009;4(1):7.


Further Reading

Hear from our baby feeding expert, Sue Battersby, on how that amazing first cuddle with your new arrival doesn’t just feel great to you, but impacts their sleep habits, immunity, stress levels and more.

When it comes to introducing a sleep routine for your baby, it’s important to be realistic in your expectations. When they’re very young, they’ll simply sleep, wake and feed when their instincts tell them to. But after a few weeks, it’s possible to start introducing simple concepts like night and day, which can help when it comes to developing a routine later on.

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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.