At any age, nutrition is one of the most important elements for sustaining life. Proper nutrition of the baby ensures the baby’s fast and safe growth. If eating disorders occur for any reason, many other important functions are harmed in the body. Then the health and life of the infant can be endangered. The ideal way to feed your baby is breast milk. If the mother is unable to breastfeed the baby for any justifiable reason, it is important to know how to feed the baby because feeding the wrong foods can also do harm. Mothers should breastfeed for a minimum of 6 months of age and up to a maximum of 12 months. Read the article to find out everything you need to know about breastfeeding and infant nutrition.
Also read: Benefits that sport and exercise bring to children
If the mother is breast-feeding
Breast milk is the best choice for infant nutrition because it meets a variety of nutritional, health, emotional, social and even economic needs because it is the cheapest diet possible.
Breast suckled breast milk is virtually sterile. It contains numerous immune factors that protect the baby from infections. It satisfies the needs of the baby’s growth and development. Also, it cannot cause allergic sensitization to infants, unlike milk of animal origin. In addition to nutrition, breastfeeding also allows a close touch between mother and child, which enables the emotional and social development of the child.
From 4 to 6 months at the latest, you should start feeding the baby with new foods. Gradually introduce foods into the baby’s diet. Start with one food and add a new one every few days. This is important because it has to be seen how the baby tolerates food. If it responds to vomiting or diarrhea, then you know what food causes it. Most commonly the first foods are fruit spoons, soups or stews of vegetables (without spices) and cereals. The cereals are first given gluten-free ones such as rice and corn flour. You should not give your child gluten cereals and their products before the age of six months.
After the sixth month, add non-dairy animal sources of protein such as meat, fish, egg yolks. Quality meat, such as young white chicken or turkey meat, young veal and white fish, should be selected. Avoid egg whites until the end of infancy. Egg yolks should initially be hard boiled.
If mother can’t breast-feed
If for any reason the mother cannot breast-feed the baby, it is important to know what and why to replace the breast milk. The only optimal substitute for breast milk is infant formula.
Any unadapted non-human milk, including cow, goat and sheep’s milk, is not suitable for infants because of differences in protein, fat and electrolyte concentrations. This difference can lead to kidney damage or brain damage of the child, which can have lifelong consequences, including mental retardation. Therefore, milk of animal origin should not be given to a baby before the first year of life. Then the body becomes capable of metabolizing the indicated concentration difference. Non-pasteurized milk has additional contagious risks and is associated with the development of infections.
Vegetable-based milk (soy, rice, oats) is also not a suitable diet for infants. They do not have a good enough nutritional value for the optimal growth and development of the baby. Calcium-enriched rice and oat drinks can be used after 12 months. Also involve alternative forms of protein and vitamin B12. These products are suitable if used under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
Breast milk or infant formula should be the main drink in the first 6-12 months. Only breast-fed infants do not require additional fluids up to 6 months of age. For formula-fed infants, chilled boiled tap water may be used as additional fluids. After 6 months, small amounts of chilled boiled water can supplement breast milk or infant formula. Consuming any other beverage in the first 12 months can interfere with your breast milk or infant formula.
After 12 months, water and cow’s milk should be the main beverage offered. If a clean and safe tap is available then the child should drink this water. Especially if it contains fluoride because it helps to fluoridate the teeth which will reduce the risk of caries.
When to stop breastfeeding and why?
The baby should stop breast-feeding after the age of 12 months. After that period, breast milk no longer provides the nutritional value for the baby’s growth. One of the reasons is also the social development of the child. Excessively long breastfeeding can cause that the child becomes too attached to his mother and has difficulty getting independent. In addition, sucking can also cause orthodontic problems with your baby’s teeth. Due to the forces that a child uses when they suck, their teeth move forward. This is not only an aesthetic problem, but the child then has difficulty eating. This is because then the so-called “open bite” causes that the child cannot properly bite the food with the front teeth.
Also read: The effects of alcohol in pregnancy
Irena is a dentist from Croatia, working extensively in her field, but she also has a high interest in the fields of fitness, nutrition and medicine in general. She has been educating herself about how to lead a healthy lifestyle for years. She seeks to help people adopt healthy habits as well as healthy and positive thinking about life. In her spare time, she hikes, runs, plays saxophone and guitar, and develops her own websites – Salubrius Vita and GoalDigger. Her life motto is: When they expect a lot from you, you do even more.