The key to a child’s harmonious mental and physical development is, among other things, a right and balanced diet. And if in the first months of life this is mainly due to breast milk or infant formula, then as soon as the baby turns 6 months, the baby’s diet changes gradually.
There are quite a number of choices for the right diet for a baby in the first year of life. The nutrition of a baby under 12 months of age differs significantly from the typical menu for an adult. But it is usually this particular moment that becomes a kind of marker when parents begin to quickly extend the list of products that have already been created.
Nutrition should help your child to replenish energy, grow and develop. This requires regular changes in your child’s menu based on his or her age and nutrient needs.
Breastfeeding and the infant’s nutrition at 6 months
Proper nutrition for babies becomes the basis for growth and development. Breastfeeding refers to the natural way of feeding because depending on the baby’s needs, its composition can partially change and give precisely the needed nutrients.
The doctors still argue about the necessity of lactation and the duration of breastfeeding. However, most physicians agree that breastfeeding for up to two years may be acceptable. But in a particular situation, parents decide for themselves. Exclusively breastfeeding a baby up to 6 months is recommended because the milk contains all the mother’s antibodies that help the body resist infections. This becomes a kind of protection for the baby. A newborn’s required amount of food is an individual question, and parents should preferably discuss it with the pediatrician. During this period, in addition to breast milk, you need to add solid foods to your baby’s diet to meet your baby’s increasing nutritional needs.
The basic nutritional principles for babies at the age of 12-18 months
The child’s diet dramatically changes from the age of 1 year due to the development of many skills in babies. The baby already knows how to eat independently with a spoon. To sharpen this skill and practice using tableware, you need to give your baby pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as meatballs.
To extend the range of taste, you can mix well-known foods (porridge, vegetable, or fruit puree) with new foods that the baby has not yet tasted.
At the age of 12 months, the baby is also able to bite into pieces of soft foods, so the child’s diet can be varied by introducing more and more solid foods. Parents can introduce slices of cooked vegetables, baby cookies, and boiled chicken pieces into the diet to encourage chewing skills.
Closer to 18 months, the baby usually eats independently from the plate with a spoon and fork, drinking from a cup. And it is a great moment to expand a child’s daily menu after 18 months with a variety of soups, main courses, desserts, and salads.
What is better to avoid in a child’s diet?
Up to 24 months, the child does not feel the salt in the food and can eat completely unsalted food. This does not mean that parents must exclude the salt, but a reduced amount of it will undoubtedly be a big plus. At the age of 12 to 18 months, as before, malted foods, chocolate, and flavored foods are under the ban. Gradually, after 24 months, you can introduce the child to products such as natural sweets, but the number of goodies should be reduced to a minimum. As for chocolate, it is one of the most potent allergens. In addition, it can stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, that is, to produce a stimulating effect. It is better to use fruit or freshly cooked pastries as a dessert. Also, you should not give your child products such as mushrooms, sausages, and fast food at this age.
Fast-food restaurants have long ago become family-friendly places, but while parents used to go there more often with school-age children, now you can see two-year-olds munching on burgers and french fries in their mouths. Why do “fast” food so kids like? Yes, because these foods have a bright taste – salty or spicy, which irritates the taste buds and causes a child’s desire to try this food again and again. Needless to say, how harmful to children’s bodies is the abundance of salt and oil in which they cook fast food? As for all kinds of snacks like chips and potato chips, there is nothing natural about them at all – they are full of flavorings, dyes, flavor enhancers, and preservatives.
Fruit juices and beverages
Pediatricians recommend avoiding fruit juice entirely for infants’ first-year meals because excessive juice consumption can lead to diarrhea, overeating, and tooth decay. However, infants can and should be offered whole fruit in a pureed form, an excellent option for baby snacks.
And a variety of fruit drinks in addition to the natural sugar from the fruit often contain added sugar, which makes them unsuitable for babies under a year.
Diluting juices with water does not solve the problem, as it does not reduce dental risks. If your baby refuses to drink water, try herbal teas.
Fizzy drinks increase acidity in the stomach, leading to the development of gastritis. But the main danger of soda is the huge amount of sugar, which is contraindicated even for adults. Dental caries, gastrointestinal diseases, and being overweight are not all the problems that can cause children to have sugary carbonated drinks.
You’re wrong if you think that baby milk manufacturers are just profiting off customers. The fact is that milk contains too many live bacteria, which can cause digestive issues in babies. In addition, the body of many children lacks lactase – an enzyme necessary for the proper digestion of lactose contained in milk, which means that the use of milk is fraught with allergic reactions. As for baby milk, it goes through a special process in which the product vanishes harmful substances for children’s bodies. By the way, many pediatricians are against the use of milk for children under three years of age and advise cooking porridge with baby milk or formula.