Feeding the Child
- Published on Tuesday, 06 August 2013 21:17
- Written by healthyeating.com
Babies love to explore the world with their mouths and enjoy tasting everything from bugs to bananas. While learning to eat and try new foods is an important part of childhood development, there are a few things you should avoid giving your child until he is at least 1 year old. If you have a family history of food allergies, you may need to restrict your baby's diet more than normal. Some pediatricians recommend avoiding all common allergens including tree nuts, strawberries and shellfish until the baby is 12 months or older. Consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your child's nutrition.
From birth until your baby is at least 4 months old, he should only have breastmilk or formula. Newborns have developing gastrointestinal systems which are not designed to handle food. Introducing cereal or other solids too early can induce allergies in infants. Your child may be ready for solid food if he has doubled his birth weight, shows interest in what you are eating, can sit up without assistance and doesn't push food away with his tongue.
Honey and corn syrup may contain spores of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. Infant digestive tracts are unable to dispose of the spores, and the bacterium can make them extremely sick. Read nutrition labels carefully to avoid all types of honey -- including raw varieties -- and corn syrup. Symptoms of botulism include difficulty breathing, paralysis, loss of head control, lethargy, poor feeding, constipation and a weak cry. Seek emergency medical attention immediately if you suspect your baby has botulism.
Infants need breastmilk or formula for the first 12 months of their lives. If it suits the mother and child, nursing can continue past the first year. However, you should not give your child cow's or soy milk until he is 1 year old. Babies are unable to digest soy and cow's milk protein and it will make them sick and irritable. Additionally, soy and cow's milk have minerals which may damage your baby's urinary system.
For your baby's first feedings, it is important to stick with pureed and strained fruits and vegetables. Chunks of food larger than a pea pose a choking hazard. At around 8 to 10 months, your baby will be old enough for finger food, and it is important to monitor him while he eats. Cut soft fruit, cooked veggies and stale bread into larger than pea-sized pieces. Do not feed the baby sticky or gummy items such as peanut butter, marshmallows and jelly as they may stick in his throat and make him choke.
Although juice may pacify a cranky baby, you should never put your child to bed with a bottle as the sugar will make him susceptible to tooth decay. Offer juice diluted with water in a cup during the day if you wish. However, water and breastmilk or formula are perfectly adequate sources of hydration in the first year.