Nutrition is one of the main determinants of infant health. According to the WHO, human health depends only 15% on the medical service, the same amount is due to genetic factors, and 70% is determined by lifestyle and nutrition. Food provides the energy necessary for vital processes in the body, especially during the first years of life.
More importantly, properly balanced nutrition that fully meets the child’s age-specific physiological needs of the growing body increases its resistance to various adverse factors.
- Breastfeeding: the baby eats only breast milk ( allowing for complementary feeding up to ⅕ of the total food intake);
Breastfeeding is one of the natural feeding options, as depending on the baby’s needs, its composition can partially change and provide exactly the nutrients needed.
- Formula feeding: the baby formula is an alternative to breast milk;
Usually, it is used in case of a complete lack of lactation. In this case, special milk formulas become a replacement for breast milk. What kind of food to feed a newborn is best determined by a pediatrician to avoid switching baby formula side effects.
- Mixed feeding: the combination of breast milk with formula milk.
Mixed nutrition for a newborn is usually chosen in case of low milk supply. That is, breast milk cannot fully cover the baby’s nutrient needs, and the formula is used as a supplementation.
As the baby grows and develops, he or she needs expanded nutrition to correct the deficiency of some trace elements and vitamins to properly form the digestive and immune systems.
Terms of the introduction of complementary foods for breastfed and formula-fed babies are different. So, during breastfeeding, parents can start the introduction of new foods at about 6 months. In the case of formula feeding, complementary foods can be given a little earlier, from 4-5 months.
Nutritionists do not recommend giving gluten-containing foods (wheat, rye, and rice) too early (before 4 months) or too late (after 7 months). It is better to choose cereals specially designed for infants and fortified with iron.
In the season of fresh vegetables, potatoes and carrots are the best choice as first foods because they are sweet, and the baby is eager to try them. At first, parents can offer their little one vegetable purees. Vegetables should be peeled, cut into small pieces, and boiled in a small amount of water. Then drain the water from cooked or steamed vegetables, chop them with a blender, or rub them with a spoon through a sieve.
- Fruits and berries
Once the vegetables are part of the child’s diet, you can begin to give fruits and berries. It is better to choose local fruits such as apples, pears, plums, and berries.
There are no strict recommendations about the best foods to start with. The most important thing is that the baby gets the necessary nutrients that are lacking in breast milk (especially iron). Therefore, the first products for complementary feeding should be rich in iron and easily digestible. Everything else depends on the region, country, food culture, food choices, family eating habits, and the season.