Thursday, August 30, 2012

Complementing Breast Milk.


A recent blog comment on my post on breastfeeding called my attention to a prior encounter with a mother who refuses to breastfeed her child exclusively for the first 6 months of life because she believed that it was the reason why her older kids turned out to be picky eaters. The truth is that breastfed babiesare less likely to be picky eaters as toddlers.

Here is the blog comment.
Hi,
I love this infomation on breastfeeding. I am having difficulty in getting my 7 month old accept other foods apart from breast milk. Someone told me that its common with babies that are exclusively breastfed for 6months.Do you have any suggestions that will help?

Efe.

Transiting from exclusive breastfeeding to family foods is usually tasking for many parents. Knowing that the period from 6 to 24 months of age is a vulnerable period and it is the time when malnutrition starts in many children. The parent worries not just about food allergies and the nutritional adequacy of the complementary food, but also how to get the little one who has been used to taking just breast milk to accepting complementary foods.

One of the first strategies to apply is patience. Patience indeed is a virtue and every parent should get some of it. Give the child time to adapt to the change. Ever wondered why babies scratch their ears and raise their leg when they suck the breast? Perhaps it’s because breast milk is sweet and they love it. So when introducing that cereal or pureed food, please be patient, babies are humans too.

Differentiate between discomforts and child’s hunger cues. Apart from hunger, children also cry when their diaper is soiled and for several other reasons. Your child will not likely accept food when he or she is not hungry.

Go easy on heavily spiced meals and consider the texture of meals. It is important that after months of having only breast milk, the first food you offer your baby is smooth and soft in texture and not lumpy, so that it is easy to digest. The food should have a bland taste and be unlikely to provoke an allergic reaction. An example of an ideal baby food that meets this quality is baby’s rice mixed with either breast milk or baby formula.

Your baby may not be developing in the same pace with other babies of the same age, watch out for signs of solid food readiness in your child. Such signs may include; your baby having good head control, reaching out for other people’s food and a reduction in tongue-thrusting reflex.

The feeding environment is important. Avoid distractions and also ensure that the child too is not distracted by things like toys.

Introduce one new food at a time. This helps the child to slowly become accustomed to eating adult-type foods and familiarizes with a wide range of textures and tastes. More so, it makes it easy to determine the exact food that the child may be allergic to.

Avoid force-feeding. This can lead to chocking and in many cases, the child grow up having a dislike for that particular food. Feeding young infants requires active care and stimulation. Do not forget to be responsive to the child’s cues.

Finally, ensure that these foods complement rather than replace breast milk.  Breast milk continues to be an important source of energy, protein and micronutrients. Consider improving the quality of the home food as this will reflect in the quality of the food offered to the child.

Image http://www.fao.org

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