Baby’s diet tips
Receiving proper nutrition, especially within the first few years of life, is vital for any baby. Most of the crucial developmental processes take place within the first year of life itself. Therefore, much attention has to be paid towards fulfilling nutritional requirements of your baby from the very beginning itself.
Breast milk is the very first source of food and energy for every newborn baby. It is really important to initiate breast feeding as soon as possible as it reduces the incidence of neonatal deaths. It is advised to initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of giving birth itself. In addition, newborns are given a vitamin K supplementation soon after birth to reduce the risk of hemorrhages as they are unable to synthesize vitamin K on their own.
For the first six months of the infant’s diet, exclusive breastfeeding is much advised. The daily calorie requirement for an infant in its early months is about 560kcal. Breast milk, being a biologically complete and an easily digestible source of energy, is the ideal source of nutrition for a baby within the first six months of life. However, it is important that the mother receives proper nutrition during this period as well.
After 6 months, breast milk production decreases slightly as the daily calorie intake of the infant increases from 560kcal to 720kcal. The protein requirement of the infant increases as well, due to the rapid growth of skeletal and muscular systems during this period. As a result, it is necessary to introduce complementary and introductory food items in the meantime in addition to breastfeeding. The process of introduction of complementary food items is known as weaning.
A variety of complementary foods can be introduced during this period. They include pureed or strained fruits (like bananas, apples, pears, etc.), well-cooked or well-strained cereal, thin rice gruel or oatmeal, pureed or strained vegetables (like carrots, potatoes etc.) and yogurt. Vegetables should be cooked until they become very soft. In addition, meat, fish or chicken, can also be introduced as complementary foods. However, the meat and fish should be well cooked, de-boned, and mashed or grounded.
You should make sure to introduce only one complementary food at a time. Allow the infant to be familiar with one food item before trying another. Use thin or soft consistency when introducing solid food and you can gradually increase the consistency over time. Never force the infant to consume more than he or she is willing to. If the infant continually refuses a particular food then omit it and find another substitute.
By this time your baby gains more teeth and can chew well. Your baby now has the ability to consume most of the foods you eat. Therefore, you can gradually increase the solid food intake of your baby. However, you should make sure to cut those food items into small pieces or smash them in order to facilitate chewing and swallowing.
Now you can introduce small pieces of cottage cheese, pasteurized cheese, egg yolks, and cooked pasta like food items in addition to the ones you already provide.
1 Year and Above
Breast milk can be continued up to two years of age along with transitional food items. These transitional foods facilitate your baby’s transition from infant diet, breast milk, and complementary food, to a regular adult diet. This is a very critical stage in a child’s diet where the foundations for good eating habits in the future are established.
The basic transitional foods include rice and other carbohydrate alternatives like bread or mashed potato. Fish, poultry, and beans can also be slowly introduced, as a whole serving for the first time. Egg is also highly recommended as an alternative to meat as a protein source. Vegetables and fruits are also a must during this transitional stage.