Q&A With Dr Ellie Cannon - SMA Nutrition

You may remember I recently posted this post on the first 1000 days which is about the first days of nutrition of a child's life, from conception to their second birthday. I asked you to leave any questions you had about your child's nutrition for health columnist and medic Dr Ellie Cannon who is working with SMA Nutrition to help further educate parents about nutrition and protein levels in these early days. 

It’s so important to understand nutrition and protein, and the impact it has on your child’s health, from the outset. Protein helps support the right level of growth and development for baby, and it’s also said that getting the right quantity during those first 1,000 days, babies need less protein as they grow, can help lower their chances of being overweight in later life. 

Dr Ellie Cannon has been reading over your questions and I thought I would put them into a Q&A style post for the people who asked the questions and anyone who may be interested in finding out more about nutrition in the first 1000 days.

My little boy has just turned one and we've switched him over to cow’s milk but he doesn't seem to be eating that well at the moment. Do you think he's getting enough from the milk or should I switch back to formula?  Whole cows’ milk can be given as a main drink from the age of one, as it contains lots of important nutrients such as calcium and iodine. Toddler Milk is designed to help complement a varied and balanced diet of Toddlers aged 1-3. It contains lots of important nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, iron and iodine to help ensure your little boy is getting what he needs in combination with his diet. 

It’s important not to give too much milk as this can reduce your child’s appetite for foods. If your little boy is having more than 500ml (about a pint) of milk each day, then it might be a good idea to offer less milk and more solids. 

How much is too much milk in your baby and child’s development? When breastfeeding, each time your baby feeds, your body knows to make the next feed. The amount of milk you make will increase or decrease depending on how often your baby feeds. In the beginning, it can seem that you're doing nothing but feeding, but gradually, you and your baby will get into a pattern of feeding (routine), and the amount of milk you produce will settle. If using infant formula, it’s important to feed your baby on demand in the same way as breastfeeding. As a guide new-born babies may take quite small amounts to start with e.g. 60-90ml, gradually increasing to match their growth and appetite. When you start giving your baby solids, their daily intake of milk is likely to gradually decrease as you build up to three meals each day. Once your baby reaches one-year-old, they can move to full-fat cows’ milk and will have approximately 300-400ml each day. 

My baby was particularly large and the MW's recommended formula for hungry babies. Someone told me that formula is pointless as it's just added starch. Is this true? Generally, there is no added starch in the hungry baby formulas. Formula for hungry babies may be more satisfying for those hungrier babies because compared to other formulas the main protein component of this milk is casein rather than whey, which may take a little longer for babies to digest and therefore may keep them feeling fuller for longer. 

Great post and well done on feeding Amelia for two years, that's an awesome effort. I fed Phoebs for 12 months and now she doesn't drink any milk. My question would be if that's ok? She just doesn't like it! She has a lot of milky cereal, cheese, yoghurts etc. so I’m hoping that's fine! From 1 year onwards, 3 servings of dairy foods a day is enough (this includes their usual milk) and it sounds like she’s having a good amount of dairy food. Having milk in cereal or other foods still counts towards their total milk: it doesn’t have to be as a drink. 

My daughter is currently 14 months old and drinks cow’s milk but I was wondering whether it's okay to switch to semi-fat or keep her on whole milk? She doesn't seem to be enjoying full fat that much. Babies should be given only whole milk and dairy products until they are two years old because they may not get the calories or essential vitamins they need from lower-fat milks. After the age of two, children can gradually move to semi-skimmed milk as a drink, as long as they are eating a varied and balanced diet and growing well. 

That’s a really interesting post. I remember being told to move on to cow’s milk after my 1st baby turned 1. Would you still recommend using formula until they are 2? It is important you make a decision that is right for you when choosing what to give your child. What’s key is giving your toddler the nutrients they need, and current government guidelines recommend that children under 5 should have a daily supplement of vitamins A, C and D. Toddler milk is designed to be used from 1 years of age. These are generally fortified with vitamins such as A and D as well as iron and omegas 3 and 6, so in general, if you are giving 500 ml of toddler milk each day your child does not need the vitamin drops. 

My midwife told me to start introducing cow’s milk to my daughter’s diet at six months, surely that’s too young to do so? The Department of Health advises that cows' milk should not be given as a drink until a baby is a year old. However, babies who are around six months old can eat foods that use full-fat cows' milk as an ingredient for example yoghurt. Follow-on milks are also suitable from six months onwards. 

A huge thank you to Dr Ellie Cannon for taking the time to answer the questions, I hope you now have all the information you require about nutrition and protein for your children. 

If you’d like to find out more about the importance of protein and the 1st 1000 days, please visit SMAmums.co.uk

* This post is in collaboration with SMA Nutrition. For details on how I work with brands take a look at my work with me page.

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