Making appropriate food choices for your baby during the first year of your life should be one of the most important decisions, because it could determine how healthy they would develop. This is because during the first year of the child’s life more growth occurs during the first year than any other time in your child’s life.
Starting good eating habits for your child at this early stage is a very healthy and important pattern for their eating for life. In the first year of your baby’s life, your baby will eat a variety of things that will help support their growth and development.
Keep it in mind the feeding should be based on your infants’ feeding skills and developmental age. Breastfed infants normally feed twelve times a day, for approximately ten to fifteen minutes per breast. Formula fed infants should be fed six to ten times a day including overnight. Keep it in mind that adding food to a bottle, such as rice cereals, to make your baby fall asleep at night isn’t recommended because it could lead to excess weight gain and decrease the important nutrients that are supposed to be taken and on the more severe situations it could also course choking hazards.
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Once a child starts eating solid foods, he or she will automatically start to drink less milk and you can slowly increase the amount of solid food offered to the child and decreasing the amount of breast milk or baby formula given.
NOTE: It should be a gradual process and make sure the food given to the child should be offered by spoon and not in a bottle. Take your time.
How to know if a child is ready for solid food
Every child develops differently some are slower and some are faster than others, so here are some signs to look out for to know your baby is developmentally ready for solid food:
- The baby can sit up with a little to no support at periods of time.
- When they start to show more interest in what you are eating.
- When the baby readily opens their mouth to accept spoon feeding.
Note: When it comes to children with special needs make sure to check with your child healthcare provider about adaptive feeding. Please make sure to speak to your healthcare provider or dietitian if the baby was also premature.
- When trying to introduce your child to solid food try giving them small amounts of new solid food using teaspoons slowly and then increase to tablespoon. Make sure that you introduce them to a new food every three to five days. Start with right in amount of cereal mix, followed by vegetables, fruits then meat.
- Slowly introduce one single ingredient at a time before introducing a new food [three to five days]. This process is extremely important to be able to assess the possibility of an allergic reaction, such as diarrhoea, vomiting or a rash. If any reaction or any of these symptoms occur stop feeding the new food to the child immediately and make sure to consult a paediatrician.
- If you decide to make your own baby food it is extremely important to avoid using salt or sugar when making homemade infant foods. Can foods may contain large amounts of salt and sugar and should not be used for a baby. Make sure you peel and thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables and remove the seeds to prevent choking and food poisoning.
- When it comes to feeding your child with infant cereal make sure you feed them with a cereal which contains iron and it can be given to them until the age of eighteen months.
- Cow’s milk should be avoided in the diet of your child onto your baby is around the age of 1 but keep it in mind cow’s milk doesn’t provide the proper nutrients for your baby.
- Avoid giving your baby honey in any form because it could cause infant Botulism.
Don’t restrict fat and cholesterol in your baby’s diet unless it is advised by your paediatrician. Children need calories, fat, proteins and cholesterol for healthy development of their brains and nervous system and their overall growth.
At the age of one most babies can try and eat most of the foods we eat, as long as they are cut up and mashed so that they can safely chew and swallow.
NOTE: Never trick your child into eating more food by playing games or offering sweet foods. From research it has proven that the babies who are allowed to follow their own hunger cues are much less likely to overeat later in life or be obese.
Most times babies don’t need juice because too much juice can lead too diarrhoea and can fill up their tummy which will lead to decrease appetite and an increase in sugar which should be avoided. Try and give your baby water between meals and snacks if they’re thirsty. If you decide to give them juice, make sure it is 100% fruit juice with no added sugar.
Make sure to wash your hands before preparing your babies food and wash your babies’ hands before they eat.
Wiping your baby’s oral cavity with a soft damp cloth twice a day will prevent tooth decay and will provide a good oral health later on in the future.
Make sure they are sitting down to eat and make sure you are supervising to prevent such complications like choking because the child is still learning how to chew especially small food and they haven’t learned how to regurgitate the food when it gets caught going down. Supervision is key.
Cook hard fruits and vegetables to soften them.
Avoid feeding your baby whole nuts, raisins, popcorn, gummy candies, hard candies, fish with bone in it.
When feeding you child try and pay attention to your child if he or she has allergies, or if allergies run in the family, make sure you view a health practitioner who can recommend a specific diet to prevent complications. When feeding your child, it is very important to make sure the food being fed to your child provides the child with their required need for healthy development.