Health Tips for Babies - Eating Tips

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Health Tips for Babies - Eating Tips. Babies grow quickly in the first year of life, so they need plenty of energy (kilojoules) and nutrients. A child’s growth isn’t always steady and even, which means that appetite and hunger can be unpredictable.

The amounts of foods eaten by your baby and their interest in food may be a little different from day to day. This is normal and shouldn’t cause any concerns if your baby is growing well.

Allergy and vegetarianism
There are issues to consider when you introduce solids to your baby, especially if your baby has shown signs of allergies or your family eats a vegetarian diet.

  • Allergy – if there is a strong history of allergy in your family, seek advice from your doctor or maternal and child health nurse.
  • Vegetarians – your baby may need extra nutrients if fed on a vegetarian diet. Seek advice from your doctor or maternal and child health nurse.

Clues that your baby is ready for solids
Health Tips for Babies - Eating Tips
When your baby starts to need the nutrients that solid food can provide, there will be obvious signs they are ready to try solid foods. Health Tips for Babies - Eating Tips. These include:

  • Good head control and able to sit up with support
  • Opening their mouth when food is offered.

  • Reaching out to grab food or spoons to put in their mouth
  • Watching and leaning forwards when food is around
Don’t leave starting solids too late

It’s also important that starting solids is not left too late, as this may lead to problems including:

  • Feeding problems, particularly if not started before about seven to nine months of age.

  • Iron deficiency anaemia
  • Poor growth due to low energy intake
Introduce solids at about six months of age
Health Tips for Babies - Eating Tips
Breast milk is an important food for babies until at least 12 months of age, or longer if the mum and baby desire. Health Tips for Babies - Eating Tips. Infant formula is important until 12 months. By about six months of age, a baby’s iron stores are low and extra foods will be needed to maintain healthy growth and prevent nutritional problems such as iron deficiency. Start to introduce solids around six months of age – when your baby starts showing interest in food.

Introducing cows milk
Suggestions include:

  • Cows milk is a poor source of iron and is never a substitute for breast milk or formula for babies under 12 months. Continue breastfeeding or using infant formula until your baby is at least one year old.
  • Cows milk contains higher levels of protein, salt, potassium and calcium than breast milk or formula. This can increase the load on the kidneys.
  • Cows milk may be included from about eight months in small amounts as custard or yoghurt or on cereal.
  • Milk should not be the main drink until after one year of age or until a range of food is eaten each day, including meat or meat alternatives.

Later feeding skills – from 8 to 9 months
Health Tips for Babies - Eating Tips
While a baby’s first solids should be mashed and smooth, they soon need variety in the texture as well as the type of food. Other suggestions include:

  • Give baby a small spoon to encourage self-feeding, even while you continue to give most of the food.
  • Give finger foods, such as pieces of cooked vegetables and crusts, to encourage chewing and self-feeding.
  • Progress from food that is pureed to food that is mashed then chopped into small pieces.

Physical readiness for solids
Your baby’s organs and body grow and develop certain physical traits between four and six months. This indicates that their body is ready physically for solids. This maturing process includes:

  • Digestive system – digestive enzymes that help to digest food are developed.
  • Head and neck – your baby is able to hold their head up; head control helps them to sit up straight and swallow.
  • Immune system – immune gut defence mechanism is fully developed.
  • Kidneys – your baby’s kidneys can now handle the increased load produced by solids.

  • Mouth and tongue – your baby is able to move food to the back of their mouth and swallow safely.
Signs that your baby is not interested
Health Tips for Babies - Eating Tips
Signs that your baby is not interested or is full may include closing the mouth tightly and turning the head away when offered food. Health Tips for Babies - Eating Tips. They may cry when the food is offered or may push the spoon away. If this happens at your first attempts to feed your baby, relax and try again in a few days. While most babies naturally spit food out when first given solids, they soon learn to accept foods if you continue.

Getting to know when your baby is hungry or full is important to having happy, relaxed and enjoyable mealtimes.

Starting solids too early can cause problems
Hungry babies should be offered more breast or formula feeds until they are ready for solids. Some parents want to try solids early, believing this may help baby grow, sleep or settle better. Giving solids too early rarely helps these problems and may lead to other difficulties including:

  • Loose bowel actions or diarrhoea, if the baby cannot digest the food.
  • Poor growth, if the solid food replaces breast milk or formula
Suggested first foods
Health Tips for Babies - Eating Tips
First foods can be prepared easily and cheaply at home without salt, seasonings and sweeteners. Health Tips for Babies - Eating Tips. The foods should at first be mashed and smooth, but you can quickly move on to coarsely mashed foods and coarser textures. General suggestions include:

  • Always sit with your baby while they are eating.
  • Encourage drinking water from a cup.

  • Give vegetables and fruits, introduce meats, or chicken, and ‘finger foods’ such as toast..
  • Start with a single food rather than a mixture.
  • Offer infant cereal first as it is fortified with iron and makes an ideal first food. Mix with expressed breast milk or formula to a smooth texture.
  • Otherwise, there is no particular order for foods:
Tips for introducing solids

  • Be calm and relaxed when you start to feed your baby.
  • Be patient. Your baby may only take a spoonful at first, but this will increase with time and practice.
  • Be prepared – all babies will make a mess as they learn to eat.
  • Make sure your child is sitting comfortably and is not too hungry.
  • Offer foods on a small, infant-sized spoon.

  • Stay with your child while eating to avoid accidents such as choking.
  • Try again in a day or so if your baby refuses the first time.
  • Wait several days before introducing a new food
By the end of 12 months, your baby should be ready to eat a wide variety of family food.

  • Introduce pasta, rice and bread
  • Offer more variety of fruit, vegetables, meats, chicken and well-cooked fish
  • Small amounts of cows milk on cereals, as custard, cheese and yoghurt. The main milk for babies less than 12 months should be breast milk or infant formula. However, it’s okay to introduce and use cows milk as part of custard, yoghurt and on cereal from seven to eight months of age.

Stay with your baby when they are eating. Let them sit with the family to watch and learn.

At around nine months your baby will develop other feeding skills. These include:

  • Ability to chew lumps in food
  • Independent eating with some assistance.
  • Showing an interest in self-feeding
Always avoid small hard foods, such as nuts and hard uncooked vegetables, because babies might choke. Fruit juice is not suitable for babies.

Unsuitable foods
Health Tips for Babies - Eating Tips
Some foods are not suitable for babies under 12 months. These include:

  • Fruit juice – contains no nutritional benefit and can reduce the amount of milk consumed.
  • Honey – there is a potential risk of bacterial infection from honey.
  • Reduced fat milk – is not suitable for children under two.
  • Tea – contains tannins that can restrict vitamin uptake.
  • Whole nuts – should be avoided due to the risk of choking.

No comments:

Post a Comment