FEEDING BABY AFTER THE FIRST 6 MONTHS
Our early childhood series has been covering the magic of mum’s breastmilk! Research proves that breast milk is THE BEST FOOD for your baby’s nutrition. Not only does it protect baby from illness, it also increases baby’s intelligence and reduces the risk of chronic health problems later in life. And we’ve learned that in the first 6 months of life, breastmilk is ALL baby needs. Exclusive breastfeeding means you don’t need to give baby anything but breastmilk for the first 6 months – no water/tea/juice, no herbal or off the shelf medication (only medication advised by a health professional) and no other food. In fact baby’s digestive system is not mature enough to properly digest anything other than breastmilk and it may damage baby’s stomach.
INTRODUCING ADDITIONAL NUTRITIOUS FOODS FROM 6 MONTHS
From 6 to 12 months continue breastfeeding on demand and breastfeed first. Then start introducing other nutritious foods starting with 1 to 2 teaspoons twice a day and gradually increasing the amount and frequency of feeds until your baby is getting ¼ to ½ a cup 5 times per day by age 1. Your baby needs iron-rich foods such as dried beans, egg yolk, minced meat, boneless fish, chicken or chicken livers or ground mopane worms. These foods must be cooked and mashed to make them soft and easy for baby to swallow.
Also give your baby starches like fortified mealie meal porridge, mashed potato and sweet potato as well as mashed cooked vegetables like pumpkin, butternut and carrots, or soft fruit without pips like avocado, bananas, pawpaw and cooked apple. As your baby gets to 9 months you do not need to mash it so soft and smooth. Baby needs to get used to lumps.
Introduce new foods one at a time until your baby is eating a variety of foods. Fresh food is much better for baby (and all other members of the family!) than baby food pre-prepared and sold in containers in shops. Do grow your own vegetables if you can. Always stay with your child when they are eating to make sure they don’t choke. Eating is an important time to socialise, talk and connect with your baby no matter how small! Other than breastmilk, give your baby or child clean, safe-to-drink water to drink from a cup regularly.
From 1 to 5 years, continue breastfeeding as often as your child wants up to 2 years and beyond. Full cream cow’s milk can be introduced after baby turns 1. From the age of 1 give food before milk, about 1 full cup per meal and 5 small meals a day increasing with age. Continue to give a variety of different foods (iron rich foods, starches, vegetable and fruits including those rich in Vitamins A and C like oranges, mangoes, tomatoes, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and imifino). From the time they can hold bits of food and then a spoon, let them feed themselves and encourage your child to become independent.
Remember – nutritious food is not only helping your little one to grow and develop – most importantly – good nutrition is essential for brain growth and development. With proper nutrition you can ‘feed your child clever!’
- Keep food and cooking utensils very clean to prevent diarrhoea.
- Always wash your hands and your child’s hands with soap and water before preparing food, before eating and after using the toilet.
- Don’t give your child Rooibos tea, other tea, coffee, creamers, condensed milk, flour water, sugar water and cold drinks. These foods do not contain any nutrients and will not help your child grow.
- Avoid giving your child unhealthy foods like chips, sweets, sugar and fizzy drinks.
- Infant formula increases the risk of your baby getting diarrhoea, allergies and respiratory illnesses.
LOVE, PLAY TALK
Learn more about what you can do to change your child’s future by listening weekly to LOVE, PLAY TALK, the radio programme on Nkomazi FM aired EVERY Thursday from 11 to 11.30am and brought to you by Ilifa Labantwana and RCL FOODS. Each week Nkomazi FM hosts a guest speaker to deal with a different topic to support you, the parent of a young child, give your child the best start in life. The LOVE, PLAY, TALK radio programme is part of the RCL FOODS sponsored LEAVE NO YOUNG CHILD BEHIND early childhood development initiative in Nkomazi Wards 16 and 19 that aims to ensure every young child in these wards has access to improved quality of essential services so that they get the very best start in life. And you, the parent, have a critically important role to play!
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST