What to eat and avoid: Birth to 12 months
SALINA – When caring for a baby in its first year, there are many factors to consider when it comes to diet. Tonya Swim, Cherokee Nation clinical dietitian, said it’s a time for maturing his or her digestive system as well as introducing his or her palette to various flavors.Birth to 4 months
Swim said breastfeeding is the optimal way to feed babies, but if that’s not an option bottle-feeding formula is recommended unless their physicians state otherwise.
“Breast milk seems to influence the…growth that’s in the digestive track of newborns,” she said. “By having that growth, it helps to support healthy immunity, and it helps with development.”
She said breast milk is also specific to the baby, which is something formula can’t replicate.
“So there is no way to replicate breast milk 100 percent and create a product that is identical to breast milk. That’s not possible,” she said. “One of the reasons being is because the breast milk that’s made is unique for each individual. If mom has three children her breast milk would be (a) different makeup in regards to the fat, the protein, the carbohydrates. That breast milk would be a different makeup for those children.”4 to 6 months
Swim said typically at this time babies can be introduced to solid foods.
“We’re looking at iron-fortified infant cereals because the baby has used up all of its iron stored that it had from birth,” she said. “Plain, strained or puree vegetables about one to two tablespoons. Plain meaning no salt, no spices, no seasoning. The same with fruit.”
She added it might take longer for some babies to get to this stage.
“The time depends on if the infant is able to sit up supported and if they have good head control. So that’s the first thing that we look for,” she said. “Babies will start to become more interactive at dinnertime, so they’ll kind of start reaching for your food or they’ll start watching you put your fork in your food and take your fork to your mouth. So that would be the second thing you would look for.”
When introducing solid foods, Swim said there should be variety, but only one item at a time.
“If they want to introduce sweet potatoes they would want to start with just a sweet potato puree, strained, whatever they’ve got, and they would only want to do that sweet potato for seven to 10 days to make sure there’s not going to be any type of allergic reaction,” she said. “If nothing happens then that next week they can introduce a different food.”
Although babies are eating small portions of solid food, Swim said breast milk or formula should be their main nutrition source for the first year.
“Table food is simply a complimentary. So we would always want to feed from the breast or the bottle first and then offer them those little bites of table food second,” she said. “It starts to help develop their palette. It starts to help introduce them to different flavors and textures, but it’s not meant to be the main source of nutrition at this point.”6 to 8 months
Swim said serving sizes for solid foods can increase now.
“You go from the two tablespoons of each thing a day, you may bump up to three to four on your fruits and vegetables, and then your iron-fortified cereals would be about four to six tablespoons a day,” she said.
Swim said by this time the babies’ parents or guardians should help them work on their “pinching” skills, which leads them to become self-feeding.
“That’s something that parents can kind of play with a little bit is encouraging the baby to pick up the food and kind of feed themselves,” she said.8 to 12 months
Swim said babies should be using their fingers and trying to feed themselves, while parents or guardians should be increasing the babies’ daily solid foods intakes.
“They should be getting on the higher end of that six tablespoons of cereal, four table spoons of the fruits and vegetables,” she said. “The texture of those fruits and vegetables can change now because a lot of babies have started getting some teeth in. Instead of it just being strained or pureed they can do some chopped on their fruits and vegetables now and chopped on their protein foods now.”
She said while introducing the bigger-sized food it should be pea-sized and babies should attended as they eat. “Don’t ever leave a baby unattended whenever they’re eating because they can choke very easily.”Tonya’s Extra Tips
Tonya Swim’s extra tips for babies under 12 months old are:
• avoid honey because of “botulism,” a type of food poising that can grow on improperly sterilized preserved foods,
• avoid sweet beverages, salt or butter,
• remove seeds and pits from fruits,
• avoid processed meats like hotdogs, lunchmeat and bacon,
• avoid shellfish and egg whites because of allergies, and
• avoid cow milk because a baby’s digestive track isn’t mature enough to properly break down the milk.
• If eating cereal, avoid sweet cereals until about eight months because their digestive tract is still maturing
• If eating cereal, avoid adding sugar or syrup.
Swim suggests if parents or guardians have any concerns they should contact their pediatrician.