Reasons why you must monitor what your baby is eating
During the first year of his or her life, feeding your little one can be an adventurous and exciting experience. However, remember that your baby’s tastes and preferences become more pronounced when you start introducing complementary foods. So, you need to be careful about what foods you are providing and how. Your child’s growth and development is directly related to his nutrition and eating habits. Hence, following the below tips and understanding the nutritional value of different food items are so essential.
- Empty calories – Avoid feeding foods that have empty calories, as they don’t provide any nutritional value. Therefore, labels on any kind of processed or packaged food item must be assessed for its sugar and fat contents. Try and feed him wholesome and nutritious meals that include natural food items like whole grains, mashed vegetables or fruits, and yoghurt. With time, you can introduce boiled and soft chicken and eggs too. All of these will provide carbohydrates, proteins, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.
- Desensitization of taste buds – The child’s taste buds are in a developing state when complementary feeding begins. This is when the baby starts to identify different types of tastes and textures. So, avoid feeding your child heightened flavours, like something that is too sweet or too salty, as it can lead to desensitization of his taste buds. Excess sugar can also increase the risk of childhood obesity and diabetes, while excess salt can cause hypertension later on. Let your baby enjoy the original tastes of different foods.
- Choking risk- Till most of his teeth kick in, especially molars, simple food items should be given to your baby. These will reduce choking risks. Mash the food items or soften them and slowly start on solid foods. Food items like peas, popcorn, grapes, toffees, small circular chunks of meat, nuts like almonds, cashews, peanuts, etc. commonly lead to choking and must be monitored. Nuts should be powdered and grapes should be chopped before your little one consumes them. As a preventive measure, you should also have your child in a seated position while he is eating.
- Food poisoning and allergy- Hygiene plays a major role in determining the health of an infant. Avoid giving him foods from restaurants and ensure hygienic conditions while preparing food at home. Or else, it can lead to food poisoning. Foods that are known to cause frequent allergies can be tested out gradually after your child is 4 months of age. Such food items must be introduced one at a time, and the next food item must only be introduced after 2 days. This way, you can keep an easy track of which item did or did not suit your child. It will make elimination of allergic ingredients easier.
All in all, apart from keeping the above tips in mind, make sure that your baby’s meals are balanced and colourful. This will help him make healthy choices in future and prevent fussy eating behaviour. Make sure your baby stays adequately hydrated too. While babies can solely depend on breast milk till 6 months of age, after that, you need to provide him with plain and boiled water or fresh fruit or veggie juice. Coconut water and water from cooked daal are healthy hydration options too.