How to make sure my baby is healthy
Breast milk (and love) is the best start to a child’s life. It is recommended by The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Children’s Fund and health associations worldwide that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months, and thereafter continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond. Breast milk is the best food for babies; no other milk comes close.
By the age of six months, most babies have doubled their birth weight and therefore breast milk alone is not enough to provide the energy and nutrients needed by the baby to grow. It is at this time that babies will need alternative foods as well. The baby’s digestive system can digest most of the foods that the rest of the family eats. This is referred to as “complementary feeding”. The foods should complement the nutrients provided by the mother's breast milk. Complementary feeding also provides opportunities to develop communication, hand-to-eye coordination and motor skills and will lay the foundation of responses to food choice that will persist well beyond infancy. Babies need foods that provide a lot of nutrients with only a tiny quantity of food, so it should be nutrient dense. Invest in a smoothie maker or blender and your baby will never hunger for essential nutrients. Remember to diversify with green, orange and white vegetables. Mix and match to your heart's desire. Please always remember to put your concoctions to the taste test (yours) first. Maybe a second opinion is not such a bad idea. Poor Dad.
When starting complementary foods, breastfeeding should continue as before, or as often as required by the infant. The length of each breastfeed should be the same as before. The mother should respond to the child’s signs of hunger and feeding abilities, referred to as “responsive feeding”. The child should be encouraged naturally and without force, to feed, experimenting with different tastes and foods with different combinations and textures. Care should be taken to minimize distractions. Eye contact, plenty of love and encouraging words will turn feeding time into time for learning and growing.
The foods should be prepared and stored safely and with care. Wash your hands, your child’s hands and utensils before preparing food.
Complementary foods should consist of:
Foods that are varied and are of different consistency. Variety of foods can ensure that vitamin and mineral requirements are met. Begin with soft foods and as the baby learns to chew by about 8 months of age, finger foods can be added. These are foods that they can hold themselves, such a fish fingers, a slab of cheese, healthy biscuits, etc.
Starchy foods should act as the basis of the meal, such as porridge, mash potatoes, sweet potatoes etc. The staple food should not be given on its own, as it is not nutritionally adequate. Other foods should be added to the staple.
Foods rich in protein should be added to the meal (meat, fish, chicken, beans, eggs etc.) Meat can be given daily but also foods such beans, lentils, and nuts are good sources of protein. Protein builds muscle. (Ask Arnie's mom).
Add green leafy vegetables or dark orange vegetables to the meal daily. These foods are good sources of vitamins and minerals and should be given in quantities of 5 per day. Fortified foods (such as bread flour, maize meal) can also add to the body's consumption of vitamins and minerals.
Lots and lots of water introduced at an early age will set the benchmark for a healthy adulthood.
Three times a day, starting with a few spoonfuls will help your baby grow into a strong and healthy toddler.
Don't forget to take Baby to the clinic for all the vital injections to protect against diseases and also to monitor his/her weight and overall vitality. Take all of the above into consideration; act on it and mother and child are on the healthy path, ready to face all obstacles that come your way.