Infant nutrition is vital, but it need not be complicated, puzzling, or scary. With just a little guidance from your pediatric team, you can get your baby on track during that all-important first year of life. Let’s talk about the seven keys to success in infant nutrition and where you can go in Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL, for outstanding pediatric care.
Breast Really Is Best
No doubt, researchers confirm that breast milk really is Nature’s most perfect food for babies. While you and your newborn may experience some starts and stops with getting latched on and becoming accustomed to the time investment, your baby will thrive on the nutritional content, immune factors, and bonding breastfeeding affords.
Parents often ask how to know if a baby is getting enough breastmilk. The simple guideline is to feed every two to three hours in a 24-hour day, and expect at least five really wet diapers (or more). Also, stick exclusively with nursing for the first few months with no added water or formula.
Solid Foods Begin at Four Months
Typically, this is before your baby begins teething. However, at this age, the infant will readily develop the ability to accept pureed fruits or veggies or cereal mixed with breast milk on a baby spoon.
Offer small amounts. See what your baby responds positively to in terms of both taste and texture. Be sure food is fluid and has no added salt or sugar. Avoid carrots, squash, green beans, and spinach in very young babies as these can cause a blood disorder related to anemia.
Be Careful with Raw Fruits and Vegetables
Always carefully wash all fruits and vegetables to remove dirt residues. Even organic produce may be surface contaminated with spores which cause food poisoning (botulism). Avoid canned vegetables and fruits, as these often contain unnecessary sodium and sugar.
Watch for Food Sensitivities
Allergies and digestive issues may crop up whenever you introduce new foods. So, introduce them one at a time and watch for:
- Problems breathing
Eggs, peanuts, wheat, and fish commonly trigger allergic reactions; so, avoid these choices until your child is much older. Avoid cow’s milk until past the age of one year.
Model Good Nutrition
As your baby grows through that first year, he or she will begin to notice what you eat. So, be positive about–and actually eat–healthy food choices.
However, your baby is not an adult and, therefore, has nutritional needs different from yours. For example, while you likely limit fats and cholesterol, do not restrict these nutrients for your baby as they promote growth and development.
Don’t Prop Bottles at Bedtime
Whatever you put in a baby bottle–juice, milk, water, or something else–do not prop it in the crib. Having your baby drink this way only endangers dental health, presents a choking hazard, and even creates an environment for ear infections (otitis media). Take the time to feed your baby while holding him or her. This interaction also promotes excellent bonding between mom and infant.
Avoid Choking Risks
Your child’s airway is highly responsive, just as yours is. However, that airway is also very narrow, so be aware of the size and texture of the foods you offer your baby.
For instance, do not give your infant:
- Whole grapes or large pieces of fruit
- Hot dogs or sausages
- Raw carrots or celery
Always monitor your child as he or she eats, too. Babies beginning to self-feed in a high chair may start choking without their parents being aware.
Infant Nutrition Advice from Children’s Medical Center
Our pediatricians and their support staff are available to guide you through that first year of infant feeding and nutrition. We have a registered dietician on staff to help you with your concerns and any special needs your baby may have. Plus, we offer lactation services for breastfeeding moms at our Trinity, West Chase, and Palm Harbor offices.
To learn more or to ask a specific question about infant nutrition, call Children’s Medical Center at (727) 787-6335. We’re here for you and your baby!