Paediatricians seldom see a more worried parent than one with concern about food and their child. With anxiety etched across their faces, the questions come: Why is my toddler so picky? Is my child sick since he doesn’t eat enough? Will my child’s limited palette lead to health problems? The fact is children regulate their intake quite nicely.
Meeting a growing child’s energy needs through all the stages of life leads to huge variations. At Vaatsalya woman and child care clinic, we are here to help guide you through these changing stages of your child’s development. At each of the well child check-ups, we will be discussing with you the dietary guidelines and pitfalls that you can use to influence the healthy eating habits throughout your child’s lifetime.
If your newborn is not premature and has regained his birth weight, we recommend feeding on demand for the first 4-6 weeks. That is offering breast or bottle whenever your child is hungry.
For breastfed babies, feed on a breast till the breast seems empty.It is important because with that the baby will intake hind milk which is higher in calories.then offer to feed on the second breast if needed.
For bottle-fed babies, slowly increase the amount of formula in each bottle to satisfy the baby (up to 8 ounces) without any increase in spitting up every 3-4 hours. Once they hit their stride babies tend to drink 24 to 38 ounces per day. If yours is significantly out of this range talk to your paediatrician.
WEANING /STARTING SEMISOLIDS
Anytime between four and six months is an excellent time to begin solid food (in puree form). One clue that your baby is ready for this is if he watches every bite of food you eat. Food allergy is not an issue for most children, only about 5% of babies will show some allergic reaction to any food.
The 3 rules.
- Offer only a small quantity of any new food, about 1 tablespoon, double that the second time it’s offered. After that, if your baby has no adverse reaction, you can offer that food in larger quantities.
- Wait 3 to 5 days before introducing new foods; advance them the same way.
- Do not offer meats or proteins (e.g. eggs) before nine months, then add them one at a time as you did with fruits and vegetables.
By nine months of age your baby should be ready for finger foods. You may start with tender veggies, biscuits, idli etc. You may also start introducing the food that you are eating, being very careful not to give anything that could be a choking hazard, i.e. grapes, or larger pieces of apples. Nine months of age is also a great time to offer a sippy cup so they can be experts by twelve months when the bottle is no longer recommended.
THE SECOND YEAR
By the second year there are many changes to be made in your baby’s diet. Bottle-fed babies are ready to switch to a cup and many breast-fed babies are weaning themselves. At one year of age formula is relinquished in favour of high fat whole milk offered by cup. There is a tendency for babies to decrease their milk intake at this age. If that does not occur be sure to limit your baby’s intake to less than 720 ml. If your baby refuses milk, then just be sure to introduce calcium in other forms such as cheese, yogurt and spinach.
Finger foods are a large part of a toddler’s solid intake as many will not be fed by mom or dad. Feed your child until he is not hungry and stop. Don’t attempt to feed a child who is not hungry. At your baby’s third birthday the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends changing to skim milk with the RDA of a multivitamin per day. During the toddler years, you will find that grazing will dominate over 3 good meals a day. Just make the snacks healthy, limiting any sugary snacks. Ideas: grated apple, cheese, banana, biscuits ,kurmura e.t.c. You may find you get one good sit down meal a day. This would be normal for this age group.
THE SCHOOL YEARS
As your child is growing, so is their schedule of things to do. This age group is more about planning than anything else. The pit falls in the diet at this age may be too many fast food stops, too many sweet drinks and too little time at home.
Try to balance the on-the-run meals with at-home meals around the table. Another pitfall at this age are the choices during school lunch time. Recent studies show an increase in obesity among students that eat from the cafeteria vs. the ones that bring their lunch. So if obesity is a concern you may consider packing your child’s lunch.
During this time of increasing freedom, the best choices may not be made. We hope by making healthy choices for the whole family the teenager will have 80/20 philosophy. 80% good choices and 20% not-so-great choices. Again looking at the cardinal rules, the hope is to have a parental shift from leadership to mentorship.