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Tips On Infant Nutrition To Keep Kids Healthy
Your new born infant needs good nutrition to grow and thrive. Proper nutrition and feeding are important for your baby’s growth. Your baby’s vital organs namely the brain requires ample nutrients to develop well.
Not feeding your baby well can mean that he/she will not gain significant weight leading to a variety of other complications. The first year is a period of rapid growth for your baby and is also the time when your baby will be achieving many significant developmental milestones such as crawling, walking, talking, etc. By the end of the first six months of baby should have doubled his/her birth weight.
Also, by the end of the first year, your baby should have grown to three times his/her birth weight. Adequate nutrition can help sustain your baby’s growth. Your baby needs sufficient calories, vitamins and minerals to grow well. This article has detailed information on your baby’s nutrition needs for the first year of his/her life. Read on to find out how best you can feed your baby so that he/she gets enhanced nutrition supporting healthy growth.
For the first four months of your baby’s life breast milk or iron-fortified formula should be your baby’s primary source of nutrition. Solid food, water and juices should not be given to a baby under four months of age. Researchers and pediatricians the world over recommend breast-feeding as the most nutrient rich mode of feeding for your baby. Breast milk has key nutrients and anti-bodies that no other form of nutrition can mimic.
The anti-bodies in breast milk build a healthy immune system for your baby and keep various infections at bay. Studies have indicated that breast-fed babies get fewer ear and respiratory infections and other allergies. Also, breast-milk is easy to digest and hence is ideal for a new born whose digestive system is just about developing. In developed countries, very good quality formula milk is available. The nutrient profile of formula milk closely resembles breast milk and its standards of manufacture are strictly governed by laws and nutrition guidelines.
In the absence of breast-milk, iron fortified formula is the next best food for your baby. Most new-borns nurse at least 10 to 12 times a day. If you are breast-feeding, nurse on demand. This will give your new born adequate nutrition and also establish a very good supply of your breast milk. If you are feeding your new-born iron fortified formula, give him/her 2-3 ounces every 2-3 hours. As your baby grows, he/she will establish a schedule for feeding and may take in more food at every feeding.
This way the number of feedings will come down. Your baby must appear satisfied after every feeding and must produce at least 6 wet diapers in a 24 hour period. This is an indication that your baby is receiving adequate food. Your baby’s weight will be closely monitored by the pediatrician during all wellness check-ups during the entire first year. Most infants will be ready for solid food by the time they are between four to six months of age. By this time, many babies can sit up in an assisted manner and draw their lips towards the spoon. Also, at this age their sucking reflex begins to diminish making them ready for solid food. This is a good time to introduce solid food to your baby.
However, do remember that solid food for the first year is mainly to introduce your baby to new tastes and textures. Breast or formula milk should remain your baby’s primary source of nutrition. This will ensure that your baby continues to grow irrespective of how much and what solid food he eats. All solid food must be offered by spoon so that your baby learns to eat rightly. Iron-fortified baby cereal is the recommended solid food that must be introduced to babies. Rice cereals or oatmeal cereals are most suitable for a baby just starting solids.
Both these types of baby cereals are easy to digest and enhanced with key nutrients. When starting solid food, mix about one spoon baby cereal with 4-5 spoons of expressed breast milk or formula. The cereal should be of semi-liquid consistency when you first introduce it to your baby. At first your baby may reject the solid food or may not know how to swallow it. In such a case, do not force your baby. Try to give the solid food again on another day. Starting with one spoon of baby cereal a day, gradually increase to 3-4 spoons twice a day. Once your baby completes six months, you can start offering pureed and strained vegetable and fruit purees.
Avocados, peas, sweet potatoes, French beans and carrots are ideal veggies that can be pureed and offered to your baby. Peaches, pears, bananas, apples, etc can be pureed, strained and offered to your baby. You can give your baby commercially available baby food or home-made baby food. Home-made baby food is inexpensive and more nutritive and fresh. Wait for 3 days before you introduce any new food item to your baby. This will help you know of any allergies that a new food item is causing.
Once your baby is about 9 months, you can introduce him/her to more protein. Well-cooked and strained meats such as chicken, turkey or beef can be introduced at this age. Along with baby cereals, mashed fruit and vegetable puree that your baby is already eating, introduce about 1-2 spoons of meat sources. You can introduce your baby to a sippy cup at 8-9 months so that your baby learns to drink from a cup. Your baby may not like the taste of certain foods especially veggies and meat as these are not sweet. However, it is important to get your baby used to all types of tastes.
9-10 months is an ideal age to start off on small sized finger foods for your baby. Give your baby small pieces of cooked veggies such as carrots, or cooked pasta. Until the age of one year you must avoid giving your baby cow’s milk and honey as these can cause serious allergies in babies which can even result in death. After your baby is a year old, introduce him to cow’s whole milk.