Sunday, October 13, 2013

Is it advisable to delay weaning till baby is 8-9 months old since she is happy with her milk diet?

Most babies digestive and immune systems are equipped to handle basic foods from around 17 weeks. It is not advisable to delay weaning longer than 6 months as up until 6 months breast milk and formula will provide essential nutrients like iron. Just as early weaning can cause allergic reactions, a delay in weaning can also cause your baby's immune system to develop an adverse reaction to food. So unless there is a family history of a particular allergy, it is appropriate to introduce small amounts of say, soya, when baby is around 6-8 months old so that her immune system reacts in the right way and not develop an allergic reaction to the said food.

There are findings suggesting that early weaning could cause allergies in babies, is this true?

This is not true because babies digestive systems are mature enough to cope with basic food after the 16th week or 4th month. There aren't enough findings to suggest that delaying weaning will prevent allergies from happening. Although health authorities are in favor food being introduced only after the 6th month, there is no reason for delayed weaning if you and your doctor feel that your baby is ready to be weaned. Watch out for signs and begin with foods that are ideal at the weaning stage.

What to do if baby rejects food?

Getting the hang of solid food may take some weeks before your baby actually enjoys eating from the bowl. Some babies may take a lot of time to adjust to eating which involves taking food from the spoon, chewing and swallowing (the tongue thrust reflex has to disappear, and it usually does after the 4 th month). You on your part should not give up and try again on another day. Key issue is you have to be relaxed and be prepared to give your baby time to adjust to this change. Also, sometimes your baby may prefer something else to baby rice; try giving him pureed fruit or vegetable.

Do I still need to breastfeed when I begin offering solid food to my baby?

Your baby should continue on formula or breast milk until at least 12 months of age. Weaning foods are first tastes and not proper meals. As her appetite for food grows bigger and she starts to eat more (which tends to occur after she turns one) her milk feeds will lessen and be replaced by proper meals. Till then don't attempt to cut down her milk feeds. Breastfed or bottle-fed baby's milk feeds should be at least 500-600ml per day. Milk feeds should ideally be first thing in the morning, at bedtime and during the day after meals; limit milk feeds between meals.

If my baby keeps reaching out for my food, should I let her taste?

From around 5 months onwards it is alright for baby to try food. The 'worrying' factor is baby's inability to chew so ideally the food offered should be pureed. Also, only age-appropriate foods should be tried. Avoid offering such a young baby foods containing salt, sugar, flavorings and colorings and additives. At this age, it is best to encourage your baby to develop and enjoy the natural taste of foods which are found in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Why is homemade puree better than jar food?

There are several reasons why your baby should be eating more of homemade food and rely less on jar foods. First, the food you prepare at home is healthier because of the fresh ingredients you use which will be devoid of salt, sugar, thickeners and additives. Commercial foods are heated at high temperatures for sterilization purpose and in the process some of the nutrients get destroyed. Home made purees taste better because when prepared at home the natural, innate taste and flavors of fruits, vegetables don't get compromised. Homemade food given now will make the transition to family food much easier.

What is meant by 'puree consistency'?

Purees are thick smooth paste that suits your infant's early feeds. Babies in the early stages will be adjusting from sucking liquids to swallowing solid food, and pureed vegetables or fruits are the ideal in- between foods which are neither too thin like milk nor too lumpy. Pureed texture in the initial stage should preferably be runny and not coarse, and slightly thicker than milk. Smooth and paste-like it can be thin or slightly thicker in consistency (add less water or milk) depending on the stage of feeding and baby's age. Vegetables and meat that are pureed separately and then added to cereals or porridges (at a later stage to bulk up the feed) not only enhances the nutrient value of the food but also enables your baby to savour the taste of individual ingredients instead of mixed flavor of many ingredients.