In this post you will learn about baby food or infant nutrition. Breast milk provides the best nutrition for these vital first months of growth when compared to infant formula. For example, breastfeeding aids in preventing anemia, obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome; and it promotes digestive health, immunity, intelligence, and dental development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively feeding an infant breast milk, or iron fortified formula, for the first six months of life and continuing for one year or longer as desired by infant and mother. Infants are usually not introduced to solid foods until four to six months of age. Historically, breastfeeding infants was the only option for nutrition otherwise the infant would perish. Breastfeeding is rarely contraindicated, but is not recommended for mothers being treated for cancer, those with active tuberculosis, HIV, substance abuse, or leukemia. Clinicians can be consulted to determine what the best source of infant nutrition is for each baby.
Infant nutrition requirements
Proper infant nutrition demands providing essential substances that support normal growth, functioning, development, and resistance to infections and diseases. Optimal nutrition can be achieved by the expectant mother making the decision to breastfeed or bottle-feed the infant before birth and preparing for chosen decision.
Baby food explained age wise.
Birth to six months
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization currently recommend feeding infants only breast milk for the first six months of life. If the infant is being fed infant formula, it must be iron-enriched. An infant that receives exclusively breast milk for the first six months rarely needs additional vitamins or minerals. However, vitamins D and B12 may be needed if the breastfeeding mother does not have a proper intake of these vitamins. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests all infants, breastfed or not, take a vitamin D supplement within the first days of life to prevent vitamin D deficiency or rickets. Exclusively breastfed infants will also require an iron supplement after four months, because the iron is not enough at this point from the breast milk.
This form of nutrition may be used instead of breast milk due to lifestyle choices or the fact that women cannot breastfeed. Formula provides all the nutrition needed for a baby to thrive and grow. Every child is different and may need different nutrition to help them grow and be comfortable. Babies may also have an allergy, may be premature, or may have a reason to not consume breast milk. There are formulas specifically for an each type of baby. If a child has a lactose intolerance, they may turn to soy based formulas or lactose free formulas. Some babies may have bad colic and need a formula that will be extremely gentle but still provide all the nutrients needed to thrive and grow.
It is important to know that some foods are restricted for infants. For example, whether breast- or bottle-fed, infants do not need additional fluids during the first four months of life. Excessive intake of extra fluids or supplements can have harmful effects. Fluids besides human breast milk or iron-enriched infant formula are not recommended. These substitutes, such as milk, juice, and water do not possess what the infant needs to grow and develop, cannot be digested correctly, and have a high risk of being contaminated. Water is acceptable only for mixing infant formula. Honey also must be avoided because there is a high risk of botulism. Breast milk is the safest thing to give, unless the mother is advised against it by a health care professional.
The frequency of breastfeeding varies amongst each mother-infant pair. Contributing factors are the age, weight, maturity, stomach capacity, and gastric emptying of the infant; as well as the storage capacity the mother has of breast milk. Typically, feedings occur eight to twelve times per day for breastfed infants. Early on, infants may not signal when they are hungry, so parents are taught to feed the infant every three hours during the day and every four hours during the night, even if waking the infant is required. The feedings will last 30–40 minutes in the beginning, or 15–20 minutes per breast if breastfeeding. As the infant matures, the feeding times shorten. Feeding often is important to promote normal growth and development, and maintain milk production in mothers who are breastfeeding.
Solid foods should not be introduced until four to six months of age. This is delayed because the infant is not able to digest solid foods properly. Infants are born with a reflex to suck milk in, they do not have the ability to push food away. So, if solids are given, it is considered forced feeding. Giving solid foods prematurely can lead to weight gain and obesity, this is why breast milk or infant formula is preferred.
Newborns typically consume half an ounce for the first 2 days after birth but will gradually increase to 1 or 3 ounces until 2 weeks after birth. They will begin to drink 2 to 3 ounces. You should expect to feed the baby every 8 to 12 times per day in a 24 hours span. Newborns will need to be fed throughout the night until their stomach can hold in more liquid and nutrition.
Babies at 2 months of age will begin to drink 4 to 5 ounces every 3 to 4 hours.
A 4 month old baby should drink 4-6 ounces every 4 hours.
A 6 month old should drink 6-8 ounces every 4–5 hours.
6 months to 12 months
Solid foods should be introduced from six months onward. Salt, sugar, processed meat, juices, and canned foods should be avoided. Breast milk or infant formula continues to be the primary source of nutrition during these months, in addition to solid foods. Solid food can be introduced during this age because the gastrointestinal tract has matured. Solids can be digested more easily, and allergic responses are less likely. The infant has begun teething by now, which will aid in chewing of solid food. Another milestone that the infant may have reached by now is properly supporting and turning their head. They may do this to express a dislike in certain foods. The infant has also developed enough to participate in feedings by grasping bottles and pieces of food to feed themselves.
When beginning solids it is important that the infant starts consuming solids with iron. Infants store iron from the womb and by 6 months of age it has depleted from their body. Iron-fortified infant cereal has traditionally been the first solid introduced due to its high iron content. Cereals can be made of rice, barley, or oatmeal. However, there is increasing suggestion that iron-rich whole foods, such as meat and legumes, might be a better choice than iron-fortified processed foods such as manufactured rice cereals.
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