Did you know your baby’s body and brain growth and development are faster and more significant in the first three years than at any other time? Which is why the right nutrition during the toddler years sets in place foundations for lifelong good health.
WORDS CHIA YING MEI
Babies up to six months old get their nutrition from milk and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
According to Dr Alvin Ngeow, associate consultant and Dr Ang Yi Shan, senior resident, Department of Neonatal & Developmental Medicine, Singapore General Hospital, babies do not need and should not be given water as there is a risk of water intoxication.
You may hear from well-meaning friends or relatives that
babies can have solids from four months but introducing solids
prior to four months is associated with increased weight gain
and obesity both in infancy and early childhood.
However, infants who are formula fed or on mixed feeding, or who exhibit poor growth or iron-deficiency anaemia may be weaned and given solids earlier at four to six months.
While both Dr Ngeow and Dr Ang recommend waiting six months to introduce solids, if you decide to begin weaning, they suggest beginning with foods that have the texture of runny puree. “This refers to foods that are smooth and fine in texture to limit risks of choking, especially as the infants at this age are still in the process of developing their set of milk teeth,” says Dr Ngeow.
Beware the Allergies
“When starting a weaning diet, the development of food allergy is also a concern, and foods that are less likely to cause allergic reactions such as cereals, fruits and vegetables can be used. Commercially available rice cereal that is fortified with minerals and iron is particularly helpful for infants who are exclusively breastfed as their iron stores are being depleted towards the end of the first six months of life. Fruits and vegetables such as pumpkin and broccoli also contain vitamin C that helps in the absorption of iron,” adds Dr Ang.
Both of them stress the importance of not adding sugar, salt or seasonings to food at this stage.