Are you a first-time mum? The first six months are almost over and you are anxious about the next phase: – Complementary feeding. Not to worry, you mastered the breastfeeding and/ the formula-feeding so, you will do just as great now.
Breastmilk alone remains the best food for your baby in the first six months of life and it is recommended to be given till the baby is at least two years old. However, breastmilk and/ formula become insufficient to meet your baby’s nutritional need at six months hence, the need to introduce other foods.
Keep in mind that the goal of complementary feeding is to get your baby additional nutrients he or she needs and; to prepare the child for eating family meals by 24months old.
Your baby is ready to eat solid foods about six months old when he or she can eat and hold the head upright, watches and opens the mouth for spoon and does not push the food out of the mouth with his or her tongue.
You need to trust your baby to determine how much food the baby needs. When a baby is hungry, mouth gets opened for food and he/ she gets upset when food is taken away. In addition, a child is full when he/ she shuts her mouth, turns head away or pushes food away.
Some things to note in complementary feeding include:
- Keep breastfeeding/ giving formula to the baby. The food is termed complementary after all.
- Introduce iron rich foods first. Breastmilk is lacking in iron. The reason your baby would not need iron till six months old is because he/she has a storage of iron from the womb which will be depleted by six months of age. Iron rich foods include meat, fish, mashed beans, mashed egg-yolk and iron-fortified infant cereal.
- The order in which other foods are introduced does not matter but make sure to give your baby foods containing vitamin C because it helps to absorb iron. Oranges, tomatoes and berries are rich in vitamin C.
- Wait 2-3 days before introducing new foods. This is to watch for adverse reactions.
- Do not give up giving your child a food if you child does not take it the first time. It is said that you must have given a food to a child at least 15 times before you conclude he/she does not like it. In addition, do not despair if a child seems to dislike a food. He/she is most likely going to eat the food later. My daughter hated some foods she now devours, even asks for.
- Give your child diversity of foods with soft textures.
- Use open cups (apart from when giving formula/ breastmilk), plates and spoons. Please, your child can handle open cups to drink right from six months just carefully tilt the cup to the child’s mouth.
- In all, do not be anxious nor despair, babies sense moods. And of course, expect messes.
This article was contributed by Adeola Akanbi
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