I had a dialog with a younger mother who was shocked to listen to a number of the new tips for feeding infants within the present Dietary Tips for Individuals, 2020-2025 (www.dietaryguidelines.gov). The suggestions are up to date each 5 years by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Well being and Human Companies.
Among the finest methods to begin an toddler off on the trail of lifelong wholesome diet, say specialists, is to feed human milk completely for at the least the primary six months of life.
Beginning at about 6 months, proceed breast milk or iron-fortified toddler components and start to introduce nutrient-dense complementary meals. Particularly vital at 6 months are meals wealthy in iron and zinc, minerals wanted for child’s fast-growing nervous system and immune operate. (Infants are usually born with sufficient saved iron to final about six months. That’s why they want further sources after this time.)
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Really helpful iron-rich meals embody iron-fortified toddler cereal, meats and seafood. Meals on the zinc-rich record embody zinc-fortified toddler cereal, meat and beans.
Why meat? This panel of specialists has acknowledged it as a nutrient-dense meals — one which packs iron, zinc, protein and different vitamins into each chunk.
Together with these meals, dad and mom are inspired to present child quite a lot of tastes, textures and meals teams, together with baby-consistency fruits, veggies, eggs and yogurt.
Right here’s a brand new advice: As an alternative of avoiding probably allergenic meals comparable to peanuts, wheat, shellfish and soy, introduce them together with different meals round 6 months. Analysis has proven that introducing these meals within the first yr of life can scale back the probability of an allergy. Seek the advice of your little one’s pediatrician for the most secure manner to do that, particularly in case your infant is at excessive danger for allergic reactions.
There are additionally some “don’ts” for feeding infants.
Don’t introduce strong meals earlier than 4 months of age. Infants have to be developmentally able to swallow by exhibiting these indicators:
- Can management their neck so the top doesn’t wobble.
- Can sit up alone or with assist.
- Can carry objects to their mouth.
- Can attempt to grasp small objects.
- Can swallow baby-consistency meals with out pushing it again out.
Don’t feed infants any uncooked or cooked honey till after 1 yr of age. Infants can get critically sick or die if the honey accommodates Clostridium botulinum, the organism that causes botulism.
Don’t give meals that haven’t been pasteurized (warmth handled to kill dangerous micro organism) comparable to unpasteurized juices, milk, yogurt or cheese.
Don’t swap to common cow’s milk from breast milk or toddler components till your little one reaches 12 months. Their digestive tracts usually are not mature sufficient till then.
Don’t feed meals an toddler might choke on, together with sizzling canine, sweet, nuts, uncooked carrots, grapes, popcorn or chunks of peanut butter.
And don’t neglect to present your child numerous love.
Barbara Intermill is a registered dietitian. E-mail her at [email protected].