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Feeding a Baby

By Jasmine Griffith

Every new mom wants the best for her baby and knowing what nutrients your baby needs is an important part of parenthood. Armed with the right information parents can feel confident their baby is getting the right nutrition to support normal growth and development.

New and expectant moms should consider increasing their Omega-fatty acid intake to further contribute to their and their baby's health. Omega-fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids which are classified as essential nutrients because they cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained from food. These fatty acids include DHA and ARA, commonly known as Omega-3 and -6, and are considered essential for optimal development in infants both during pregnancy and after birth.

Dr. David W.L. Ma, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Nutritional Sciences, College of Biological Science at the University of Guelph, is an expert on the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids. "Omega-fatty acids are good for both mom and baby," says Dr. Ma. "Studies in adults have shown that Omega-fatty acids provide benefits to the heart and blood vessels. In pre-term infants, the Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain maturation and visual development. And there is a growing body of literature suggesting that early exposure to Omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial for reducing the risk of adult diseases such as breast cancer and osteoporosis. Pregnant and breast-feeding women should eat foods rich in DHA and ARA like salmon, beef, chicken and eggs, so that the baby can also reap the benefits."

"Breast-feeding is always the best choice but if this is not an option, go with an infant formula rich in Omega-3 and -6," suggests Dr. Ma. There are some infant formulas on the market with Omega-fatty acids that provide a well-balanced combination of protein, minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates, all of which are essential for a baby's development. Dr. Ma encourages caregivers to consult a healthcare professional before making a feeding change.

"At Heinz we know the importance of Omega-fatty acids so we added Omega-3 and -6 to our new Heinz Nurture Infant Formula," says Ida Laquatra, who directs the global nutrition team at Heinz. "In addition to Omega-fatty acids, the new formula also comes in varieties such as organic, soy and partially broken down whey protein, which will help mothers ensure their babies get the right nutrients during those crucial early years."

Feeding a baby in the first years of life is an exciting adventure for parents and babies alike. It's about development, nutrition, exploration, sharing and learning. More about infant nutrition is available online at www.heinzbaby.com or Health Canada at www.hc-sc.gc.ca.

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