Baby Feeding –
Baby Feeding – The first few years of a child’s life are critical. A baby’s healthcare and nutrition during these years lay the foundation for their healthy lives ahead. While all their developing years are equally important, the first year is especially significant.
Feeding your baby right in the first 12 months affects their growth and wellbeing in the later years. As a new parent, it is easy to be overwhelmed and concerned. But if you remember a few basics, there is no reason to worry.
What to Feed an Infant?
The first six months of a baby’s life can be simple, yet crucial for their diet. Breastfeeding during this period is common across several cultures and is also recommended by doctors and health organisations.
Mothers are advised to breastfeed their kids within the first hour after birth, if possible. It reduces the chances of mortality. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months to ensure optimal nutrition and protection against diseases.
A mother carrying infections such as HIV could be worried about passing it on to the baby. Antiretroviral treatments (ARTs) can reduce the risk of passing infections from mother to child. Safe breastfeeding can contribute to the babies’ immunity.
If a mother cannot breastfeed the baby, bottle-feeding is the alternative. It is best to consult your doctor about the best options for your baby. Bottle-fed babies may need fewer feeding cycles per day than breastfed babies.
After six months of age, parents can start with complementary feeding. Children show specific signs of development and need additional nutrition. It is advisable to introduce it slowly, instead of making sudden changes.
Some solid foods you can introduce into your child’s diet after six months include grains, such as rice, fruits, vegetables, and more. Cook grains till they are soft or mash them. You can also mix them with milk. Fruits and vegetables should be soft, mashed, or cut into tiny pieces.
Properly wash and clean fruits and vegetables. Avoid serving seeds and peels. If you are feeding meat or fish to the child, ensure that it is well cooked, soft, and without bones. Break it apart into smaller pieces.
Complementary feeding can continue for up to two years of age. It is best to avoid animal milk and juices in the first year, or at least the first few months. When feeding solids, soft foods fed in tiny portions are best to avoid choking hazards.
How Often to Feed the Baby?
In the initial few months, sleeping and eating dominate the babies’ routine. A newborn could need anywhere between 8 to 12 sessions of feeding, at least in the first few weeks. It can reduce to 6 to 8 times in the next three months, eventually plateauing around the six-month mark.
Since new-borns will need constant attention and will get hungry often, it is important to let them dictate the feeding cycles. After the second month, they may begin showing clear signs of hunger, such as looking for the mother’s breast or the bottle, trying to put their hands in their mouth, and fussing. After the first few months, you can calibrate the baby feeding schedule to something suitable for both the mother and the child.