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From Breast Milk to Complementary Food: Baby Steps in Healthy Eating

From Breast Milk to Complementary Food: Baby Steps in Healthy Eating

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At about 6 months of age, there is a change in a baby’s nutritional requirements. Along with breastmilk, a growing baby needs additional nutrients for its growth and development.

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

A baby requires adequate nutrition for an increase in its weight, height, bone and muscle formation, as well as brain development. By the age of 6-months, a baby’s digestive system is capable of processing proteins, starch and fats. It is time to introduce complementary foods while maintaining the baby’s intake of breast milk.

What are complementary foods?

Complementary foods are healthy, nutritious foods that complement the nourishment provided by breast milk. The nutrients provided by breast milk may prove to be insufficient for your growing baby. Complementary foods should contain vitamins, minerals and micronutrients that may not be present in your baby’s diet. Fruits, cereals, and vegetables can all be classified as complementary foods.

Several easy and healthy preparations can be introduced in the initial months of complementary feeding. Purees of iron-rich vegetables like sweet potato, broccoli, spring onion and radish leaves make excellent first foods for your growing child. You can boil, dice and mash these vegetables to make delicious purees. Breast milk may be added to the mixture to change its consistency.

Cereals and legumes are also a great choice. Rice, oats, wheat and several types of lentils and pulses can be used to make porridges. These are also rich sources of iron and vital nutrients that are a must for your child. Green leafy vegetables are rich sources of iron, vitamins, anti-oxidants and micronutrients.

Along with vegetables, it is a good idea to introduce fruits in your infant’s diet. Not only do fruits taste great, but they also contain nutrients essential for your child’s growth and development.  

Lastly, don’t forget to add fortified foods to your list of complementary foods. Fortified foods have the appropriate amounts of micronutrients necessary for your baby’s overall development. A bowl of fortified baby food, in addition to breastmilk and homemade preparations, fills the gap in the nutritional requirement of a growing child.

Here is how you can introduce complementary foods:

  • First, make sure your baby is comfortably seated in a high chair or an infant seat.
  • Take minute quantities of the food in a small spoon and slowly bring it close to the baby’s mouth.
  • Allow your child to smell the preparation and taste small portions.
  • Don’t worry if the baby spills some of the food while eating, it’s all part of the process!
  • Continue to feed your child tiny portions and let them enjoy the diverse taste of different complementary food preparations.

Congratulations! You and your child have reached a milestone. Complementary foods are going to be a part of your baby’s diet from now on.

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