While Milk is important for the first few months of life, once babies start eating solids, formula or breast milk or cow’s milk becomes less important nutritionally. Milk is nature’s plan for both infants and animals nutrition until they are able to eat solid foods, which offers a better nutritional balance. By ages 4 months to 6 months, most babies are ready to begin eating solid foods as a complement to breast-feeding or formula-feeding.
During this time babies typically stop using their tongues to push food out of their mouths and begin to develop the coordination to move solid food from the front of the mouth to the back for swallowing. Traditionally parents start with cereal, move to fruits and vegetables and add meats as the last food group. However many experts now recommend reversing that order as meats are the most nutritious in vitamins and minerals and cereals are mostly filler foods with the least amount of nutrition. Whatever order you choose by 9 months babies should be eating from every food group.
By baby’s 1st birthday the majority of their nutrition should be from solid foods. They should be eating from all food groups. A one yer old should be taking no more than 24 oz of milk and if they are eating a well balanced diet there is no minimum about of milk they should drink. Milk does offer vitamin D and calcium, however you get plenty of both from the sun and all the calcium you need from meat, vegetable, soy, nuts, beans, and other solid foods.
Diet Diversity Helps With Potential Food Allergies
Dietary recommendations aiming to reduce the risk of food allergies began to appear in the early 1990’s. They recommended infants avoid certain foods such as egg and peanut. These guidelines were largely based on outcomes of trials focusing on the mother avoiding allergens during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. New research has clearly shown that this thinking was incorrect and it is now known that early introduction of foods particularly highly allergenic foods is helpful. In the meantime, experts agree there appears to be a window of opportunity in the first year of life where exposure to foods such as peanut and egg decreases the risk of allergy to these foods.
Introducing New Foods
Despite what your well-meaning mother-in-law might tell you, a lot of time-honored advice about starting solids has officially been scrapped. It’s often recommended to wait 3-5 days between introducing new foods, but that may not be so smart after all–especially if you want to tame picky eating later. It is perfectly reasonable and definitely easier to be aggressive and introduce several new foods at a time.
Go ahead and give your baby a bite of your dinner. There is a whole line of baby foods available but feel free to offer bite size soft foods to your child. Foods like pasta, baked potatoes, soft meats, and steamed vegetables are all safe just be careful of the choking hazards. As long as you can mash a food between your pointer finger and thumb, even with no teeth, baby’s gums are powerful and can handle it. The sooner they are eating real foods , the sooner you can cook one meal and make your life easier. If it is nutritious for you, it is nutritious for them.
Just remember you are in charge of the quality of food and the baby is charge of the quantity. They will eat until they are full. Do not worry if every meal is well balanced. Aim for a balanced diet over a week at a time. And remember a child’s growth controls their appetite. Kids grow in spurts and their appetite will follow accordingly. There really is no set way to incorporate solid foods into the feeding schedule. But one method of doing it is pick one meal like Breakfast. Before giving formula or breast milk, start by allowing your baby to eat as mush solid food as they will eat. When they will no longer take more solids, top them off with their normal bottle or breastfeeding until they are full. Once they get the hang of it… add a second around lunchtime and a third around dinnertime.
Make It A Process and Eat With The Family
It is important for your baby to get used to the process of eating—sitting up, taking food from a spoon, resting between bites, and stopping when full. These early experiences will help your child learn good eating habits throughout life. Encourage family meals from the first feeding. When you can, the whole family should eat together. Research suggests that having dinner together, as a family, on a regular basis has positive effects on the development of children.
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About Pediatrics of Florence
We believe that children are more than just “little adults.” They have unique personalities, challenges, and life circumstances and we have made every effort to make our offices and care as “kid friendly” as possible. We have an aquatic theme in the waiting rooms (separated for sick and well children) as well as themed examination rooms. All of our physicians are Board Certified Pediatricians and members of the American Academy of Pediatrics and our nurse practitioners are all licensed Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and are available to see both well and sick children.
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