Infants from their birth to 6 month age need only breast milk.
Infants from their birth to 6 month age need only breast milk for their nutritional needs. It meets your baby's needs in first 4 to 6 months, provided you are eating a healthy diet. The breast milk is the best milk for new born children because
- Mother's breast milk is a complete food for babies.
- It gives extra immunity to the body of the baby and protects them from illnesses.
- It is hygienic as it is free from contamination and supplies nutrients to the infant in almost correct amount and proposition.
A newborn baby needs breast feeding 8 to 12 times per day i.e. every 2 to 4 hours. The number of feedings will decrease as the baby gets older. When the baby reaches to four months age, he can be fed 4 to 6 times per day, at each feeding the child consume increased quantity as his need grows.
Recent report in Epidemiology reports that the longer infants are breastfeded, the less likely they are to become overweight as teens. A baby should be breastfeded for at least first 6 months.
If the child cannot take breast milk or if there is some problem in breast feeding, then fortified formula milk can be given. If a newborn baby does not start taking breast milk, then the milk from the breast can be taken out and fed to the child. Formula milk can also be given to such babies who need breast feed training.
Why Breast Milk is the best?
Breast Milk vs. Infant Formula MilkBreast milk is better than infant formula milk. Although both breast-fed and formula-fed babies seem to develop similarly, scientists at the University of Illinois say that breast milk contains immune-protective components that make a breast-fed infant's risk lower for all kinds of illnesses, reports the June 2010 issue of the American Journal of Physiology, Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.
- "Breast milk is responsible for higher IQ and leads to lesser chances of having diabetes, hypertension and asthma. It has long term advantages even when the baby grows up into an adult and therefore ensures longevity," says Dr Arun Soni, consultant at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital's Department of Neonatology.
- Prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding makes kids smarter and improves their academic performance, suggests a research by Dr. Michael Kramer, Professor of Pediatrics and of Epidemiology & Biostatistics in the McGill University Faculty of Medicine, and published in the Journal Archives of General Psychiatry (2008).
Vitamin D & Breastmilk
The mother's milk is deficient in vitamin D, it containg only about 25 IU per liter. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the infants on breastfeed should be given vitamin D supplements of 400 IU/day shortly after birth and continue until they consume ≥1,000 mL/day of vitamin D-fortified formula or whole milk. Consult your Doctor.
Infants who receive vitamin D supplementation have an 80% reduced risk of developing type 1 diabetes over the next twenty years.
Vitamin D deficiency makes the bones soft that can be easily bent in children of 6 to 18 months age. vitamin d deficiency symptoms
When to Start Giving Solids to Infants
The expert recommends that you should introduce solid foods when your child is 4 to 6 months old. But if there is a family history of food allergy and if the child is satisfied with breastfeeding, you can delay the solids until 6 months of age. You should not delay solids past 6 months as the breast milk or formula milk cannot meet out baby's nutritional requirement as the baby grows.
The reasons for introducing solids are:
- At this age, because your baby's natural iron stores begins to decline, iron enriched cereals become necessary.
- Milk alone is not sufficient for energy requirement.
- Chewing develops the muscles required for speech.
Is Your Baby Ready for Solids
Your baby is ready for solids when he has good control of head and neck. If the baby wakes up during night or looking for more food after a full breastfeed, you should start solids.
Foods that can be given to the babies when they reach the age of 4 to 6 months are iron-fortified baby cereals, ragi powder, suji (sooji, semolina), and raw plantain powder cooked in milk, mashed fruits (apple, pear, banana or avocado), and mashed vegetables (pumpkin, potato, carrot or zucchini) soups. At first start with cereals of soft, smooth texture mixed with breast milk or formula milk to a thin consistency. When the baby learns to control it in his mouth, the cereal may be mixed to a thicker consistency. Never give cereals in the bottle.
- Week 1:
Start with 1 teaspoon of cereal once per day after breast of bottle feed.
- Week 2:
Give 2 feeds per day after breast or bottle feed.
- Week 3:
Add pureed fruits to the cereal for one feed and the other feed only cereal.
- Week 4:
Add pureed vegetables as a third meal per day.
Points to Note for Solid Feeding
- Start solids slowly with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon at a time. Increase the amount gradually.
- When your child start eating 1/4 to 1/2 cup at a time, you can give the solid food at the second feed.
- First start with a single food and watch for 4-5 days for any food allergy. Then give second food and watch for any allergy. If you observe any signs of food allergies, consult your doctor.
- Give soils after a breastfeed or bottle feed.
- Start giving water to your baby.
- No meat, chicken or fish before 6 months.
No eggs before 8 months.
No cow milk before 12 months. It has been found that children who are given cow milk before 12 months have a chance of developing type 1 diabetes as they grow.
Note the growth of the baby. In 5 months time, the infant's weight should generally double his birth weight.
Some of the information on this page has been compiled from the Golden Circle (Australia) Fact Sheet on Feeding your baby solid foods.
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