One of the most common questions for new parents is to know what to feed their baby. Naturally, people experiencing being parents for the first time are more cautious of what to feed their new baby. While your doctor can answer any questions you may have, here is some simple advice to help relieve any concerns you may have.
Up until your baby is six months old, he or she only requires breast milk, or if this not possible, baby formula. Parents may question whether breast milk is sufficient alone but the answer is that it is. Natural breast milk contains all the nutrients your newborn needs including lactose, fatty acids, vitamins, amino acids and enzymes. It is recommended to breastfeed your baby up until they are six months old because it’s easier for your baby to digest. Breast milk is also essential for the baby’s brain development and their overall growth because it acts as a natural protector against illness.
If a mother happens to wean her baby off breast milk before the baby is 12 months old, the milk should be replaced with a special iron-fortified baby formula, which will help prevent the baby from developing anemia. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a good idea to feed your baby cow’s milk until they are at least one-year-old because it doesn’t have all the necessary vitamins and nutrients that babies require.
There is no real rush to change your baby’s diet and get them eating solids. If you start too early with solids, your baby may get an upset stomach because it’s not ready to digest that kind of food. Recent research argues that the best vegetables to introduce your children to are the green, yellow and orange vegetables as these are high in iron and have many beneficial nutrients for your baby’s development. Pediatric dietitian Nicole Meadow encourages parents to gradually introduce foods with a few days in between each new food source, as this will help you to become aware of any allergy your baby could be suffering from. Avoid feeding your baby food that contains honey or regular cow’s milk and perhaps any food that another family member is allergic to as many food allergies are often hereditary.
When your baby is about eight months old, their stomachs are better able to handle infant cereals and foods that have been pureed. Infant feeding specialist Cynthia Epps explains that this is the time you can start introducing different foods into their diet and expand their palate, but it is still recommended to give different foods a trial run for a period of a few days at a time. During this food transition period you can begin introducing your baby to food which requires more chewing. At this point you can take your regular family food and mash it up with a fork or cut it into very small pieces; however, it does need to be cooked until it is very soft to minimize choking.
When your baby turns one, the transition from infant formula to regular cow’s milk can be made and if you still happen to be breastfeeding your baby, this is a good time to stop because it is no longer necessary for your baby. At this point in a baby’s life, it is also fine to introduce juice, but do be sure to read the labels so you’re not giving your child excessive amounts of sugar and additives.
The most important thing to remember is that a newborn needs its mother’s milk or special iron-fortified baby formula. Once the baby is old enough, the food needs to be gradually introduced and kept simple without too much flavoring. If you follow a simple plan, you will improve your baby’s overall health and you will also help them create better eating habits for the future.