Categories: Paediatrics

FAQs-Nutrition in New-borns and Infants

Why is it important to Breastfeed the baby?

Mothers milk is made to fit her baby. It provides ideal nutrition for infants. It is composed of the perfect mix of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fat needed by the baby to grow.

Breast milk contains antibodies that help the baby fight off microorganisms.

It lowers the risk of asthma and allergies in the baby.

Breastfeeding helps to develop the baby-mother bonding through skin-to-skin touching and eye contact

Breastfeeding is the best and most suitable for your baby.

Is it okay to bottle feed my baby?

A child does not need a bottle at any age. Use of bottle a few times could mean the end of successful breastfeeding. The baby will get confused between the mother’s nipple and the bottle nipple, favouring the bottle as the flow of milk is faster and easier with minimum effort when bottle feeding.

Can bottle-feeding cause problems?

Bottle feeding can lead to infections like gastroenteritis or repeated diarrhoea.

It can lead to undernutrition or over nutrition, resulting in failure to thrive or overweight or obesity.

Sleeping with bottle in the mouth can lead to baby bottle caries affecting the child’s dental health.

When should I introduce animal milk to the baby?

Exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age is essential for the baby. Animal milk should be introduced only in small proportions along with weaning foods around 12 months of age. It should not be the sole or primary source of baby’s diet.

What animal milk is best suited for my baby?

The composition of animal milk is best suited for the offspring of that animal. Research has shown that any kind of animal milk is unsuitable for human infants (children >1 year of age).

Buffalo milk has high-fat content making it difficult to digest. Cow milk has high concentrations of sodium. It also causes insensible blood loss from the gut leading to anaemia. Goat’s milk has more essential fatty acids and is less allergic compared to cow’s milk. However, it is not comparable to human milk.

Is skimmed milk a good option for my baby?

The fat present in milk provides energy, essential fatty acids, vitamin A and D. Skimming fat from milk reduces the quantity and availability of these nutrients. Low fat and skimmed milk are therefore inappropriate for infants during the first 2 years of life.

When can I start other foods for the baby?

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life is crucial. However, foods other than breastmilk should be introduced once the baby has completed 6 months of age. This will ensure that the baby learns to eat foods with a variety of tastes and textures. The increasing nutritional demands of the growing baby can be met when weaning is started along with breastfeeding at 6 months of age.

What weaning foods can I give my baby?

The first food that the baby eats should be liquid to soft inconsistency. Cereal based porridge is a good choice for a first weaning feed. Homemade cereal and dal-based porridge or gruel mix can be prepared and stored for later use. Cook this mix in water as per requirement. Amylase Rich Flour (ARF) is a good option for weaning foods

Once the baby tolerates these, introduce strained fruits and vegetable puree. Introduce only one new item at a time. Check for any intolerance or allergies. If well tolerated introduce another new food. Start with vegetables first and then fruits as the baby will prefer the sweeter fruits over the vegetables.

Gradually increase the consistency and quantity of foods given. Avoid hard and chunky foods with choking hazards. Avoid very salty or sweet foods. By 9 months the baby can eat most of the family foods. Cook them soft and cut into small pieces so that it is easy to eat.

Can I add salt and sugar to weaning foods?

Many paediatricians recommend introducing salt and sugar to the baby’s diet after 1 year of age. If the baby is faltering in weight gain, add small quantities of jaggery or sugar and oil or ghee to provide extra calories in the diet. Keep the use of salt to a minimum and avoid any kind of salty foods.

When can I add spices and herbs to my child’s food?

Spices and herbs should be introduced after 8 months of age. This is to avoid digestive upsets and allergies. Introduce spices like jeera, turmeric, hing, and coriander if the baby is tolerating other foods well. Other spices can be added later in small quantities once the baby starts eating from the family pot

At what age are Fruit Juices allowed for the baby?

Fruit juice should be avoided for infants younger than 6 months. Unsweetened juice can be introduced in small quantities as the child starts eating solid foods. It should be offered in a cup and never a bottle. Juices should not replace other more nutritious meals. Drinking too much juice can lead to diarrhoea, dental caries, lack of appetite and overweight. Whole fruit is preferred to juices.

At what age can I start giving eggs to the baby? Should I start with the white or Yellow portion?

Egg yolk can be started by 8 to 10 months of age. Whole eggs are recommended after 1 year of age as the gut is mature by then and the risk of egg white allergy is minimized. Eggs are a good source of proteins, vitamins, iron and DHA. Raw eggs can cause salmonella infection hence cooked eggs are recommended.

When can I start giving water to my baby?

Exclusively breast-fed babies do not need water. Water should be introduced once weaning feeds are started at 6 months of age. Babies over a year old and eating solid foods should be allowed to drink water as per their needs. Avoid the addition of sweetening or flavouring agents to water, let the baby drink plain water from a cup.

Initially, babies will splutter or spit out water, continue feeding plain water and the baby will eventually learn to drink it.

Roshan Kore | Senior Dietician | SRCC Children’s Hospital, Mumbai

Narayana Health

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