As your baby grows, his or her first year is an essential period for him or her to eat an appropriately balanced diet. Children grow the most in their first year of life. Breast milk or formula is all a baby needs during their first few months. To ensure your baby's full health and development, it is important to provide the right nutrition at the right time. The habits of eating healthily that you establish at a young age will help you maintain them later in life.
How to feed your baby during the first four months of their life
Solid foods should not be introduced to your baby unless the health care provider advises you because:
Baby's nutrition needs are met by breast milk or formula.
Currently, your baby cannot use a spoon.
It is possible for solid food to cause your baby to become overweight if it is overfed too early.
** Baby feeding tips:**
- In order to avoid complications caused by vitamin D deficiency, children of any age must obtain vitamin D daily. Cow's milk, supplements, and formula contain vitamin D. The pediatrician will advise you on how much vitamin D your child needs.
- You should introduce one meal at a time gradually to your newborn as they begin eating solids. Mixing cereal with other foods should be avoided. It is recommended to add another food delayed for 2-3 days. Thus, your baby's food allergies or intolerances can be identified.
- It is advisable to start introducing solid foods little by little at first. Increase the dosage from a teaspoon to a tablespoon slowly.
- The order of the different foods does not matter. It is common for parents to start their children with infant cereal, then gradually add fruits, vegetables, and proteins.
- Food made by a parent for their baby should not contain salt or sugar. Generally, baby food in cans tends to be extremely sweet and salty, making them unsuitable for consumption.
- Beets, carrots, green beans and spinach should not be given to a baby under 6 months old. High concentrations of nitrates are present in these foods. The increase in risk of a blood disease can also complicate oxygenation in the body.
- Fruits and vegetables should always be washed, peeled, and seeded or pitted. When picking and preparing fruits and vegetables, be careful to prevent contamination.
- It is recommended that you introduce cow's milk around the time your baby turns 12 months old. It does not provide enough nutritional benefit to your baby.
- As soon as your baby begins drinking from a cup, try giving them non-sugar fruit juice a bit at a time. There is no question that children who consume fruit juice tend to become overweight and undernourished. Consuming fruits and vegetables in their whole form is very beneficial.
- Botulism can occur from honey, so remain away from it for the first year.
- In case your child is not hungry, don't force him or her to eat everything on the plate. As your baby grows and develops, he or she will slow down in regards to growth and appetite, and will be less eager to eat.
- The water requirements of healthy infants are usually very low or nonexistent. Make sure your baby doesn't suffer from dehydration by asking their doctor. Upon starting solid food, he or she can have a few sips of water.
- Food choices for a child can't simply be a function of what mom and dad like. Children can develop healthy eating habits by being offered a wide variety of foods early on.
- Healthy baby and young child diets should not limit fat and cholesterol, unless your doctor advises you to do so. It is important for a child's growth that they consume enough fat, calories, and cholesterol.
Below you can find information regarding products that an infant can be given, based on their age.
4-6 months At this age, your baby can begin consuming solid foods. You can add the following:
- Vegetable purees (carrot, sweet potatoes, pumpkin);
- A variety of purified fruits (apples, bananas, pears);
- Meat purée;
- A cereal containing iron, usually semi-liquid (rice or wheat).
- Pureed legumes or dals (peas, black beans, lentils). Beans must be boiled very well and be very soft so that they can be easily mashed. As pureed legumes can be quite heavy on a baby's stomach, start introducing them in very small quantities in the beginning.
- Yogurt without added sugar. For an easy introduction, mix pureed fruit with yoghurt.
- Smooth and creamy fruit and vegetable purees;
- Dairy products containing pasteurised milk;
- Small pieces of bread, cereal puffs, soft biscuits, crackers;
- Variety of iron-fortified cereals (oats, ragi, barley).
- Veggies and fruits in small pieces;
- Combination foods like rice, dal, idlis or porridge;
- Legumes that are soft and well cooked
- Pieces of meat of small size.