Having a child is a great blessing and a great responsibility, and being a parent is the hardest job there is. Many first time parents are confused when it comes to their babyís eating habits, and we offer some advice to help.
In the first year of a babyís life, her main source of nutrition should be either breast milk or formula. But most parents introduce solid or complementary foods to their children when theyíre six months old, and that isnít wrong. It helps the baby get used to having solid food in her mouth, and, in a way, itís a practice of eating.
If you notice your baby is leaning towards the food when she sees it, or reaching to grab a spoon to put it in her mouth, or opening her mouth when you offer food Ė it means itís time to switch to solid food.
According to professionals from Croatian Bebivita I've spoken to, first foods you give your baby needs to be mashed and smooth, and you can move to coarser foods later on. Although there is no specific order of introducing foods, itís good to start with a single food (instead of a mixture). You might offer your baby infant cereal Ė it has a lot of iron and thus itís a good first food. Try mixing it with formula or breast milk to make it easier to consume. When youíre feeding the baby, be sure to have her sitting. Also, at this time itís good to teach her drink water from a cup.
One of the essential things is knowing how to recognize signs of satiety. Your baby has had enough when she spits out the nipple, pulls away, or closes her eyes. Donít force her to continue nursing or finishing the bottle. When you start feeding her with solids, itís normal that sheíll spit it out at first, but will eventually accept it if you persist. However, if the baby doesnít show much interest in eating for a couple of feedings in a row, ask experts, such as your doctor, for an advice.
Newborns need to be fed pretty often, itís true. But once you have an older baby who starts crying not long after feeding Ė donít try to soothe her by giving her food, a technique lots of parents employ in their attempts to make the child stop crying. Offer her a pacifier instead, or relax her by shushing or singing to her.
When it comes to weight, bear in mind that an average baby doubles her birth weight in the first four months, and triples it by the first birthday. If your baby exceeds or doesnít meet these numbers, be sure to talk to your pediatrician.
When your baby reaches 9 months of age, the food she eats should vary in texture and type. We suggest giving her the so called finger foods: pieces of crusts and vegetables to encourage her to chew and feed herself. You can also give the baby a small spoon to encourage her to feed herself, even though youíll continue to feed her for the most of the meal.
At one year of age, you can offer the baby various types of fruit, meat, pasta, rice, bread and small quantities of cow milk (with cereals). Have your baby eat with the rest of the family: that way sheíll learn more quickly. Avoid food which is hard and small (nuts, for example) and uncooked vegetables, because itís hard for babies to swallow.