Complementary Foods for your Baby; What You Should Know

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Complementary Foods

Is your baby approaching six months of age, and you are wondering if it’s time to commence complementary foods?

Do you have a hard time struggling to put food in your mouth while carrying your baby?

Are you convinced breast milk doesn’t satisfy your baby any longer and you need to include other foods in his daily meals?

If your answer is yes to all these, then it may be time to move on to complimentary foods.

 

TODAY WE SHALL BE LOOKING AT COMPLEMENTARY FOODS, WHAT TO GIVE AND SIGNS TO KNOW YOUR BABY IS READY FOR IT.

Now what are these complementary foods?

Complementary foods are foods other than breastmilk or infant formula introduced to an infant to provide nutrients and calories.    According to WHO, complementary foods should be

  • introduced on time  – no earlier or later than six months so your baby’s energy and nutrient needs are met
  • adequate – in terms of quality (i.e sufficient to provide  the energy, proteins and other important nutrients your baby needs)  and also in terms of quantity ( it should be enough and not too little to ensure his nutrients needs are met daily)
  • Lastly, complementary foods should be safe. These foods should be stored and prepared under strict hygienic conditions and fed with clean hands and utensils.

Between the ages of 4-6 months, babies begin to show signs or readiness to  begin complementary foods like

  • Struggling to hold your cutlery while you eat,
  • Following your food from plate to mouth with their eyes,
  • Making mouth movements while watching someone eat ,
  • And lastly showing keen interest in foods served during family meals.

Complementary Foods

With all these signs at hand, does that mean your baby is totally ready to begin complementary foods?

Here are milestones to watch out for to be sure your baby is really ready to begin

  1. Can your baby sit up alone or without support?
  2. Can he hold his head steady?
  3. Does he open his mouth when he sees food coming towards his direction?
  4. Does he keep his tongue low and flat to receive a spoon?
  5. Can he close his lips over a spoon and scrape food off the spoon in his mouth when removed
  6. Can he swallow foods in his mouth rather than push them out of his mouth?

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Now that you are sure your baby is really ready to commence complementary feeding, here are ways to introduce  foods to your baby.

  • Comp foods should be introduced by offering one food at a time, and its important to wait for 3 –  5 days to see if any reaction occurs.
  • It is also important to know that your baby may reject the food offered, so introduce a new food continuously for about 8 – 10 times till it is well accepted.
  • Foods given should be in pureed or semi -solid form .

So what foods should you offer?

Your baby’s meals should contain foods from all the food groups like

Fruits and vegetables – such as bananas, apples, pear and  watermelon, all of which make makes excellent baby first foods  and contribute nutrients that grow and develop  their bodies .  Others to include are steamed carrots and peas, cucumbers, oranges, plums, mangoes and leafy vegetables like moringa and ewedu leaves.

Your baby’s meals should also contain Carbohydrates:  can be found in oats, brown rice, and  cereals made from grains like millet, maize, guinea corn, and wheat. Carbs can also be found in yams, potatoes and plantain, all of these provides the energy , vitamins and minerals your baby needs for his daily activities.

Thirdly, your baby’s foods should contain Proteins:   these are very important because they help in the proper functioning of the immune system, builds, maintains and repair tissues.  Best sources can be found in breast milk, infant formula, cooked and pureed fish, meat, chicken, turkey and egg yolk.

Lastly your baby’s foods should contain fats.

It is important to note that breast milk contributes a huge percentage of fat to your baby’s diet and should be continued even after complementary foods has started.   Other sources include infant formulas, oils used in cooking and dairy products like milk and cheese.

It is generally advisable to offer your baby whatever the family is eating,  but the food given should be  pureed it with a food processor or blender ; or mashed with a fork,  so your baby does not have a hard time swallowing and digesting it.

Now let’s see how we can combine all  these food groups to make a complete meal.

  • Cereals made from maize, oats or wheat mixed with infant formula or breast milk and orange juice or avocado pear
  • Cooked yam or plantain with fish, moringa leaf  and palm oil
  • Irish potatoes, with carrots ,peas , vegetable oil  and minced chicken

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Now that your baby has started on  complementary foods,  not all foods are permitted due to the health risk they pose on your baby.  It is advisable to wait  till your baby reaches the age of 12 months before introducing these foods. Foods to avoid are

  • Honey
  • Whole cow’s milk
  • Salty foods and foods preserved in salt
  • Sugary foods and sweets, candies and gums
  • Whole or chopped nuts and other foods that can cause choking.

ALWAYS REMEMBER MOMS, YOUR BABY’S HEALTH IS IN YOUR HANDS.

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