Feeding a baby
Proper nutrition is fundamental to a child’s health from an early age. By the 4-6th month, the need for extra energy, vitamins and minerals is reinforced. It is the food that should provide the child with all these beneficial substances that are important for the growth and formation of his organism.
Therefore, the first foods on his table should be vegetables (vegetable puree), baby milk products and porridges.
The gradual introduction of products helps to develop the masticatory apparatus, stimulates the enzyme-producing systems in the gastrointestinal tract, and prepares the child for weaning.
Start of infant feeding
According to World Health Organization recommendations, the introduction of a new food is guided by whether the child is breastfed or fed artificial milk. In the former case, feeding begins after the 6th month and in the latter case, the 4-5th month.
Children who are breastfed
The best food for a child in the first months of life is breast milk. Feeding of a healthy child who is breastfed should start no earlier than the age of 6 months.
At this stage, the mother’s milk is no longer able to fully provide the necessary substances. The accelerated development of the muscular, digestive, nervous, renal and immune systems requires additional nutrients.
Children who are fed artificial milk
A child who has been fed artificial formula since birth is ready for new food by the time he or she is 4 months old. This is when the digestive system matures and gut immunity is formed. In addition, the increased permeability of the mucosa is normalized.
In children at this age, the mechanisms responsible for swallowing and processing harder food are also formed.
If you do not start feeding the child at the age of 4-4.5 months, a deficiency state of vitamins and trace elements may develop in his body. This entails various pathologies.
When is the child ready for feeding?
The readiness of the child can be determined, in addition to age, by registering the following signs:
- The child more and more often than usual wants to breastfeed or drink milk from a bottle, i.e. he cannot satiate his hunger for long;
- The weight with which the child was born has doubled;
- The child is able to sit up with little help from an adult. Confidently holds its head and turns it on all sides;
- When solid food falls into the child’s mouth, the reflex to push it out of the mouth with the tongue is absent;
- The child has not been sick for several weeks;
- No recent vaccinations have been given;
- The child is interested in the food his parents eat, looks at their plates and watches them chew.
Rules for introducing new foods
- Any new food should only be introduced to a child’s menu if it is absolutely healthy. It is contraindicated to introduce food immediately before and after vaccination, and during recovery from gastrointestinal illness.
- Food is given before breastfeeding, and juices – after breastfeeding. Start with 5 g and gradually increase the amount until it reaches 150 g. This process takes from 2 weeks to a month. During this period, monitor the child carefully.
- Prepare the juices and purees at home. Take the necessary precautions: wash your hands, kitchen utensils, products, etc. carefully.
- Food for breastfeeding children should be freshly prepared. Even short-term storage in the refrigerator can lead to undesirable deterioration.
- Food should be warm. Serve it with a spoon while the child is sitting.
- It is not recommended to offer 2 solid or 2 liquid foods at one meal.
- It is not advisable to give the same food twice a day.
- Introduce each new food 10-15 days after the successful introduction of the previous one.
- A basic rule in feeding is the gradual and consistent introduction of new products. The new product is introduced after complete adaptation to the previous one.
- Observe whether the child’s stool characteristics change. If they remain normal, the next day you can increase the amount of the introduced product.
- Consult the supervising physician when introducing any food.
What to start feeding your baby
Previously, it was believed that the first product with which it is advisable to start feeding young children is juice. It was introduced as early as the 4-5th month.
It is important to know that cereals and vegetables are the main products you should rely on. If the child is weak or is not eating regularly, it is advisable to start with porridges. If the case is exactly the opposite of the one described, the child is more plump, of normal weight and prone to constipation, start feeding with pureed vegetables.
Usually it comes to apple or pear. They contain fiber, which favorably affects the work of the intestines. In addition, children are happy to eat them. Here is the time to stress something important: practice shows that some children, having first tried sweet fruits, then have difficulty adapting to vegetable purees and porridges.
Its introduction is not simple, since breast milk has a slightly sweet taste. This can also be said about artificial mixtures. So be patient. Offer the new dish not just once, but 10-12 times. If the child continues to reject it, switch to another vegetable.
Warning! After failing to introduce one vegetable or another, some parents make the mistake of going straight to offering porridges. This is a mistake. There is a high probability that the child will not want to eat vegetables at all, since you have offered him the sweet porridges. Some mothers even make the situation worse by sweetening the porridge further.
Ideal vegetables to start feeding are: zucchini, broccoli, potatoes, cabbage. It is important to offer 1 type of vegetable for 5-7 days. During this period, observe the child’s reaction. If during adaptation you do not notice any allergy or negative impact on the digestive system, you can proceed to the introduction of a new vegetable. Then make a mixed puree of them. We do not recommend salting the food. Since the child is not yet used to the different tastes, he likes the products as they are.
It is important to rely on porridges that contain one product. In addition, give preference to the low-allergen ones. In their composition there should be no sugar, lactose, gluten. Choose between corn, rice, oat and buckwheat. We do not recommend sweetening porridges. We will repeat here that porridge is introduced at the very beginning of feeding only if the child is too weak.
If the child does not suffer from intolerance to cow’s milk protein, at 6-7 months of age you can introduce cottage cheese into his menu.
At 7 months of age, the child is ready to consume pureed meat. Start with turkey, rabbit, beef or chicken.
Juices and fruit.
It is advisable to offer them to the child at a later stage. For example, around 7-8 months of age. The least allergenic are the pear, green or yellow apple. Then you can introduce apricots, cherries, bananas and plums. After 8 months of age, you can offer the child kiwi or strawberries. If the child readily eats cottage cheese, feel free to mix it with some fruit that you have successfully introduced. This makes an excellent afternoon snack.
After at least 10 months of age, you can start introducing fish dishes. Be careful as fish is a strong allergen.
A few important rules when introducing foods:
- No “solid foods” until 6 months of age;
- No gluten until 9 months of age;
- No cow’s milk or citrus fruits until 12 months of age;
- No mushy fruit until age 2;
- No tomatoes and legumes until 12 months of age;
- No corn until 9 months of age;
- No eggs until 1.5 years of age;
- No fish before 10 months of age;
- No honey until 1 year of age;
- No seasoning of food with salt or consumption of soy until 12 months of age;
- No chocolate before the first year;
- Sugar is not recommended in infancy;
- No nuts, especially peanuts, before age 3;
- Avoid preservatives, colourings, flavourings, sweeteners and other unhealthy chemical ingredients found in mass-marketed treats, snacks, ready-made drinks etc.
What time of day
We advise choosing a time of day when your child is calm and in a good mood. Avoid evening times for introducing new foods. Generally babies are most curious and willing to try different food when they are not very hungry. Because of this, mothers often choose the period between two feedings. That is, about an hour to an hour and a half after the last breastfeeding.
Introducing food is a continuous and gradual process. Therefore, you should not harbour huge expectations. When we say to give the child a spoonful of the vegetable puree, we are really talking about that amount. It is quite enough for the toddler to get acquainted with the new taste and start getting used to the different principle of feeding.
Soon enough, the time will come when the child will cry because he has run out of the amount of food you have prepared for him.
About the introduction of juices
It is true that freshly squeezed juice contains plenty of vitamins, minerals and fiber. However, it is characterised by a pronounced acidity. It is this acidity that can adversely affect a young child’s still unformed stomach.
In addition, most fruits and some vegetables in raw form are allergens. This means that their early introduction into the menu is inadvisable. They can trigger allergies in the long term.
How much juice and when to offer the child?
During the first 6 months of life, a young child needs only breast milk. It contains all the key nutrients for its development. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding during this period. Therefore, the introduction of fruit and vegetable juices should occur after the age of half a year.
At this stage of the child’s development, you can start giving him vegetable and fruit purees – they can be prepared from raw products or cooked. According to your observations on the child’s abilities, you can also offer pieces of fruit. In this way he will learn to bite and chew.
You should know that whole fruits and vegetables (cut into pieces or made into puree) are preferable to freshly squeezed juices. They are kinder to the baby’s stomach. Moreover, they contain all the valuable nutrients, some of which are absent in juice.
Experts recommend introducing vegetable and fruit juices when the child reaches 8 months of age. The amount should not exceed 80 ml/day until the first year.
Juices to avoid until 1 year of age
Since there are fruits that are strong allergens and are too acidic, it is advisable not to consume citrus, kiwi and berry juices (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) during the first 12 months of the child’s life.
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