During their first year, a baby’s weight roughly triples and their length grows by about 50% – if they receive proper baby nutrition. Since their stomachs are tiny this means that they need to eat nutrient-packed food and they need to eat it often.
The First Few Months
Until babies are about four months old the only baby nutrition they need is mother’s milk, a well-selected formula, or a combination of these. Babies’ appetite patterns differ, so it’s wisest just to feed them whenever they make it clear that they’re hungry, however often that may be. Keep to this strategy as they get bigger. They know when they’re hungry and when they’re full and don’t know how to pretend.
The Next Stage
When babies show indications that they’re ready for solid food it’s time to supplement breast or bottle with iron-fortified rice cereal and, for vitamins C and A, pureed fruit and vegetables. Start with about one teaspoonful a day. Mix cereal with four or five teaspoons of formula or breast milk. If your baby isn’t ready, relax and try again in a few days. Gradually increase it to about a tablespoonful twice a day. Always wait about three days before introducing any new food in order to help you notice any sensitivities or allergies.
From about age six months to eight or nine months, continue feeding breast milk or formula whilst gradually increasing the size, frequency, and variety of the solid-food portions. Offer soft mashed fruits and vegetables in addition to pureed and strained ones. By the end of this period you should be able to introduce such finger foods as teething biscuits, toast, and bite-size pieces of low-sugar dry cereal.
As babies near their first birthday gradually supplement their breast milk or formula with calcium-rich cottage cheese and yoghurt, small pieces of ripe banana, then other fruit cut into cubes, overcooked pieces of pasta and cut-up vegetables, macaroni and cheese, and to meet rising protein requirements chopped hard-boiled egg yolk, moist cooked mince, and small pieces of flaked fish until they’re eating most foods. Avoid providing them with sugary drinks, however.
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