What is the ideal food for babies?
Breast milk is the ideal food for your baby. The baby till 4-5 months of age requires no other food as breast milk is the only "standard" food for the infant.
What are the advantages of breastfeeding ?
- It is safe, hygienic, and available to the infant at the correct temperature.
- It meets the nutritional requirements of the infant fully in the first few months of life.
- It contains antimicrobial factors that provide protection against diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections in the first months of life.
- It is easily digested and utilized by both normal and premature babies.
- Promotes bonding between the mother and infant.
- Helps development of the jaws and teeth of the baby due to suckling.
- Protects babies from obesity.
- Prevents malnutrition and reduces infant deaths.
What are the feeding patterns?
Introduction to bottle
Most babies do not need to be bottle fed at any stage. After exclusive breast feding till 6 months a feeding cup or glass can be introduced.
The baby is breastfed on demand. After the age of 3 months usually around 5-6 kgs.weight, if the baby stops waking at night frequently sleeping oftenfor 6 hrs. at a stretch. Once weaning starts and solids are introduced a baby may sleep for as long as 8-10 hrs at a stretch.
When and how to start weaning ?
Six months onwards is the time to introduce foods in the child's diet i.e.called the weaning process. Foods such as fruits, vegetables and pulses and cereals are introduced slowly, one food at a time.
The first semi-solid foods are normally introduced at 6 months of age. It is important to make this transition to semi-solid foods an enjoyable one. The amount of food offered and swallowed in the beginning is a teaspoon or so. Patience is needed when babies are first introduced to semi-solids. While they are learning to eat this way, they may often spit out the food – this does not mean that they dislike the food or are not hungry. It is normal for your baby to bring the food out, as the ability to chew and swallow takes time to develop.Infants accept the food better, if not distracted by other activities whilefeeding. Try to have flexible feeding schedules. After the first few weeks,a healthy infant will develop a self-regulated feeding schedule. The number of total feeds a day will usually reduce significantly by the time the infant is six months of age.
What are the qualities of weaning foods?
Breast milk is a complete food for the infant. Weaning foods are used as an additional source of energy as well as to satisfy the increasing requirements for all essential nutrients. Particular attention should be paid to proteins, iron, vitamin A and C, as these are frequently found to be deficient in the diet of young infants.
Desirable qualities of weaning foods should
- have high energy content
- be easy to digest
- be semi-solid in consistency
- not be too thick
- be fresh and clean
- not be expensive and should be easy to prepare
What are the guidelines during weaning?
- Give solid food only once in a day when you start weaning.
- Introduce only one food at a time to permit the infant to get used to it.
- Give very small amounts of any new food at the beginning, 1-4 tsp.
- Allow the infant to become familiar with the food before trying to give another.
- Use a very thin consistency when starting solid foods, slowly thicken consistency.
- If, after several trials, that baby has an acute dislike for a food, omit that item for a week or two and then try again. If the dislike persists it is better to substitute it with another.
- The child should be encouraged to try new flavors. Variety in coice of foods is important.
- Infants may object to taking some foods but will take them willingly if it is mixed with another food.
- No added salt or sugar is needed if sweetening is necessary, sweeten with fruit puree.
- Food should not be forced on the baby.
- Salt should not be added or added to salty foods.
- Added salt may actually be harmful, before the age of one year.
- When the baby accepts one slid feed in good amount (usually by 7 monhs age) introduced second solid feed.
- Breast milk should be continued and a total of 5-6 feeds (solid+milk)are feeded slowly increased texture should be tolerated. Do not puree foods.
- Maintain breast feeding throughout the first year.
What is a balanced diet ?
A diet which contains all the nutrients e.g. energy, proteins, fats,vitamins, minerals etc. required by a child for the proper maintenance of health and optimum growth is termed a 'balanced diet'. Dals and beans have high contents of protein and a small amount of fat. Bread is rich incarbohydrates but poor in proteins.
What does the child need in his diet?
It is important that a child's diet should be both good in quality as wellas adequate in quantity. If his diet is deficient in nutrients and energy,it can adversely affect his weight gain and body growth. The child's dietshould supply him with proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in adequate quantities.
How to provide a balanced diet?
Between 6-12 months of age solid food does not provide complete nutrition but as the infant approaches 9 months solid foods form a major part of the dietary nutrients. At this age a baby should be having 3 solid meals, a variety of foods containing proteins fats and carbohydrates with enough fibre. Milk should be given only twice or maximum 3 times a day a total intake of 500-600 ml of milk is sufficient.
Breast milk can be slowly decreased and discontinued by the age of 12-15 months. Food patterns are developed early in life and it is important that good food habits be developed early. An inadequate intake of calories will result in poor weight gain and vitamin or ion deficiencies can result in anaemia rickets or other diseases.