From the moment your baby arrives, through their first birthday, food is and continues to be an integral part of each day. New parents are faced with many decisions about feeding newborns and young infants, often getting caught in the middle of conflicting and sometimes confusing advice. What worked for your grandmother or mother may be seen today as being unhealthy, even dangerous. Because options and opinions surrounding what is the “right choice,” can vary, it is important to consult with your doctor, and decide what works best for your baby and family.
1. Decision One: Breast or Bottle
Good nutrition is important for your babies growth and development. Pediatric consultants recommends breastfeeding your baby until the age of two or beyond. While not all mothers will nurse their baby as long as is currently recommended, experts agree that breastfeeding for as long as you can has significant benefits to you and your baby.
2. Starting Solids: One Spoonful at a Time
Today, most babies are introduced to their first foods sometime between 5-6 months of age (when they are able to control their head movement, and eventually sit up on their own). These early bites are not intended to be nutritionally important, they are a time for you and baby to get comfortable with this new skill. Breast milk and infant formula will continue to be an important part of baby’s diet.
3. Introducing MILK: Don’t Rush!
Years ago bottles were filled with milk long before a child’s first birthday. Today most experts recommend waiting until your baby is between 9 to 12 months before offering cows milk, some have even recommended 18-24 months. Pediatric consultants warns parents, milk given before 9 months can cause iron deficiency anemia.
4. Food Allergies
Studies show only 6-8 percent of children have adverse reactions to food, many of which occur in infants. According to clinical dietitian, the most frequently diagnosed food allergies are to peanuts and other nuts, fish, citrus fruit and eggs. Milk allergies are rare.
When children begin eating table foods, parents must be aware of the dangers and risks of choking. Older infants and children under age four can easily choke on food and small objects. Do not feed children younger than 4 years old any round, firm food unless it is chopped completely. Round, firm foods are common choking dangers. When infants and young children don’t grind or chew their food well, they may attempt to swallow it whole.
6. Dangerous Foods
- Hot dogs
- Chunks of meat
- Chunks of cheese
- Whole grapes
- Hard or sticky candy
- Chunks of peanut butter
- Raw carrots
7. From the kitchen
- Plums, Peaches, Apricots
- Sweet Potato
- Green Beans