Parenting Lesson 21 - Food and Diet in children Part I

Topics covered in this lesson-

  1. When and how to start solid foods to my child?

  2. What type of foods to give for solid food start?

  3. What should I do if my child won’t eat?

  4. Does my child need fruit juice?

  5. How often should my child have a snack?

When and how to start solid foods to my child?

Breastmilk or infant formula should be your baby’s exclusive source of nutrition for first six months of life. Health professionals recommend a gradual introduction of appropriate family foods in the second six months and ongoing breastfeeding for two years or beyond.

Around 6 months of age, most babies can start consuming solid foods as a supplement to breastfeeding or formula-feeding. During this time, babies normally avoid using their tongues to force food out of their mouths and begin to learn coordination to move solid food from the front of their mouth to the back for swallowing.

In addition to age, look for other signs that your baby is ready for solid foods. For instance:

● Will your child keep his or her head in a steady, upright position?

● Is your child able to sit with support?

● Is your kid mouthing his or her hands or toys?

● Is your child displaying a desire for food by leaning forward and opening his or her mouth?

● If you answer yes to these questions and your baby's doctor agrees, you will start supplementing your baby's liquid diet.

What to do and when to serve

● Continue feeding your baby with milk or formula—up to 32 ounces a day.

And then:

● Give single-ingredient foods that do not contain sugar or salt. Wait three to five days between each new food to see if your child reacts, such as diarrhoea, rash, or vomiting. You can sell them in combination after you have implemented single-ingredient foods.

● It's essential nutrients. Iron and zinc are essential nutrients for the second half of your baby's first year. These nutrients are present in purified meats and single-grain, fermented cereal.

● Basic baby cereal. Mix 1 tablespoon of single-grain, fermented baby cereal with 4 tablespoons (60 millilitres) of breast milk or formula. Don't serve it with a glass. Instead, help your baby sit up and give a small spoon of cereal once or twice a day after a bottle or breast-feeding. Start by serving a teaspoon or two. When your child gets the hang of swallowing runny cereal, mix it with a little less liquid.

What type of foods to give for solid food start?

The First Foods of Baby by Age: There are no hard and fast rules for first baby food. It's more important to deliver a range of fruits, vegetables and meats to get your baby used to different tastes. Here are a few tips.

● 4 to 6 months: single-grain cereals:

At first, much of the cereal will end up on your child's cheek. "The point is to get your baby used to a different kind of feeding. Don't push your baby to continue eating if he doesn't shake his head, turn away, or fail to open up after just one mouthful. And if he appears uninterested in trying cereal, just wait a week or two and try again.

When your baby is used to swallow runny cereal, thicken it with less water or milk and more cereal.

● 4 to 8 months: purified vegetables, fruit and meat.

You may have learned that consuming fruit before vegetables may lead to a lifelong desire for sweet food, but there is no evidence to back it up. So, it's up to you if you start with bananas or carrots or for that matter, pureed chicken.

● 6 to 8 months: single-ingredient finger food

If you've started with purees or are just beginning solids with finger food, many babies have enjoyed experimenting with self-feeding from an early age. At this point, do not give any rough, raw food (such as apple slices or carrot sticks). Make sure the fruits and vegetables are smooth enough to ground gently between your thumb and forefinger. Don't add salt or sugar in your food—better it's if your baby learns to eat it without seasonings.

● 9 to 12 months: chopped, ground or ground food

As soon as your child can shift him away from a smooth purity. Add more textured finger foods such as yoghurt, cottage cheese, mashed bananas, and

What should I do if my child won’t eat?

● Serve the right amount. Give your child 1 tablespoon of each meal for each year of age. E.g., if he or she is 3, serve 3 tablespoons of each meal. Small parts will give him or her a chance to ask for more.

● Be careful and patient. Offer a lot of new food. You may have to give food 10 to 15 times before your child can try it.

● Let your child help you. Let him or her pick the food in the grocery store. Then find a way he or she can help prepare a meal or set up a table. Participating in various sections of the meal will make him or her more likely to eat.

● Make it enjoyable for them. Cut the food into forms with the cookie cutter. Present the food on your child's plate in a creative way. Have your child come up with special names for their favourite food.

● Give options to them. Instead of feeding your toddler with a vegetable, let them pick between two choices. "Would you like some broccoli or some cauliflower for dinner?”

● Mix the latest with the old one. Serve fresh ingredients alongside your classics. This could make it easier to try something different.

● Let them have a dip. Provide healthy dips to inspire your child to try new fruit or vegetables. This may include hummus, yoghurt or low-fat salad dressings.

● Be a strong example of that. If your child sees you eating a variety of nutritious foods, he or she is more likely to try them.

Does my child need fruit juice?

It's OK for children older than 1 year to drink juice in limited quantities. But all the fruit and the plain water are better options.

The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) advises that fruit juice should not be offered to children younger than 1 year of age, as it does not provide any nutritional benefits in this age group. Juice can also increase the risk of tooth decay and cause your baby to prefer sweeter flavours rather than plain water.

If you give your child fruit juice, select 100% fruit juice instead of sweetened juice or juice cocktails. Although 100 per cent fruit juice and sweetened fruit drinks can have similar calories, your child will get more nutrients and fewer additives from 100 per cent juice. Adding water to 100% fruit juice will allow a long way to go.

One cup of 100% fruit juice is equivalent to one cup of fruit. Juice, however, lacks whole fruit fibre and can be eaten more easily. While a small amount of fruit juice is good every day for most children, remember the whole fruit is a better choice.

How often should my child have a snack?

Most children and adolescents need to eat every three to four hours throughout the day to feed their increasing active bodies and fulfil their MyPlate regular diet schedule. This is translated into the following:

● Younger children tend to eat three meals and at least two snacks a day.

● Older children need to eat three meals and at least one snack a day they will need two snacks if they are growing up or are very physically active).

Offer scheduled meals and snacks during the day. A reasonable rule of thumb is to deliver snacks a few hours after one meal is finished and around one to two hours before the next meal starts. Postponing snacks for a few hours after a meal helps discourage children from rejecting food at a meal and then begging for more food as a "snack" only after the meal is finished. On the other hand, avoiding snacking right before meals supports a balanced appetite at mealtimes.