How to start supplementary food in babies

Damla Arslan

In my article titled Miraculous Food Breast Milk, I mentioned the benefits of breast milk. In this article, I would like to give information about the transition process of your growing baby who is confusing the beloved mothers during the supplementary food transition period. In the first 6 months we definitely emphasize breast milk, but after 6 months do you know what to do?

Watching your baby grow rapidly, you should know that breast milk is no longer sufficient after the 6th month. Supplementary food should not be started before the first 6 months in infants with normal development and only breastfed. The proposal adopted by the Ministry of Health of many countries, especially the World Health Organization (WHO) is “Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.”

When to Start Supplementary Food in Babies

The best time to start supplemental feeding is 6 the month. It is known that breastfeeding alone during the first 6 months prevents infectious diseases and reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases in the future.

What are the mistakes made while starting to supplementary food?

  • Some mothers want to start supplemental food as soon as possible so that their children get used to different tastes. However, as the taste of breast milk changes according to what the mother eats, your baby actually enjoys different nutrients. For example, if the mother eats carrot, the baby feels the taste of carrot in milk; if she eats garlic the baby tastes and smells of garlic. The more diverse the mother eats, the more likely the child will love the foods and accustom to different tastes.
  • Some mothers, on the other hand, start supplementary food in the 4th month with the idea that breast milk is not enough for their baby. However, this should not be done unless there is an unexpected situation after monitoring the baby’s weight gain and height and the risk of illness should not be increased by starting supplementary food early.
  • Sometimes it is the opposite of what I mentioned above. For example, when some babies gain 1-1.5 pounds a month by feeding exclusively on breast milk, families can start complementary foods to prevent obesity in the baby. However, the protective effect of milk is eliminated as a result of switching to complementary foods early and turning to ready-made foods and reducing breast milk. Therefore, it should be avoided to start supplementary food unless there is a significant change in growth curve. It has been shown in the studies that the babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months are less likely to have obesity.
  • Complementary feeding before 6 months causes a decrease in the duration of feeding with breast milk. It is also important in this respect to avoid early supplementary feeding as much as possible.

Since the formation of the baby’s digestive system is completed at the 4th month, complementary foods should not be started before the 4th month. After the 4th month, the most appropriate time for the baby to benefit from breast milk is to start to complementary foods at the 6th month. However, if there is a significant change in the growth curve of the baby, the supplementary food can be started early.

How should be the supplemental nutrition in babies?

Complementary feeding should be started in addition to breast milk, not instead of breast milk. When the baby is 6 months old, the energy from the supplementary foods should account for 50% of the total energy. The other 50% should be obtained from breast milk. The transition to supplementary food is an important step for the first time the baby is introduced to the food, and the psychosocial problems during this period affect the child’s growth and health in the future. Therefore, feeding habits should be gained by trying different tastes slowly and patiently without forcing the baby. It should be remembered that a baby needs to taste at least ten times to get used to a new taste.

In the process of transition to supplementary food in babies;

  • First nutrients should be easily digestible and nutritious values should be high.
  • It should be started in small portions and gradually increased according to the needs of the baby.
  • One nutrient should be tested at each time, the baby’s toleration should be observed and a new nutrient group should be added at intervals of 5-7 days.
  • Foods with a higher allergy risk should not be preferred first. There are views that if there is the risk of allergies in family members, delaying or not giving the food groups that are allergic can reduce the risk of allergy in the baby.
  • No salt should be added when preparing supplementary foods. The use of salt increases the risk of kidney stone development in infants.
  • The use of sugar should be restricted as much as possible.
  • Optional breastfeeding should be continued until at least two years of age.
  • Feeding frequency should be increased as the baby grows. The frequency should vary according to the amount of intense nutrient intake. A healthy child should take 2-3 meals a day between 6-8 months and 3-4 meals a day between 9-23 months with small snacks in addition to breast milk.

How to start supplementary food in babies?

6th month and afterwards

  • Follow-up formula if only there is no or insufficient breast milk,
  • Fresh juice (apple or peach), vegetable juice or soup. (of many vegetables),
  • Yoghurt (home-made)
  • The baby should not be forced by giving large amounts of supplementary food, as this may lead to nutritional resistance.

7th month

  • Egg yolk (can be increased by starting at 1/8 scale and given every other day)
  • Bread, rice, custard.
  • Juices & Fruit mash, Yogurt (Homemade)
  • Red meat, chicken, fish (small portions)
  • Vegetable oils (healthy oils such as olive oil)
  • Vegetable mash or vegetable soup
  • Molasses (can be mixed into fruit juice).
  • Follow-up formula should be added to the baby’s nutrition plan

8th month

  • Good crushed home dishes (with minced meat and vegetables)
  • Pasteurized cheese
  • Grain – dried legumes (chickpeas, dried beans, wheat, green lentils etc.)
  • Molasses (can be mixed with fresh juice or puree, should be given without mixing into yoghurt or milk)
  • Yoghurt
  • Follow-up formulas

12th month

The baby should be seated in the family table and choose according to their own experiences.

  • The baby can consume foods like stuffed vegetables, minced vegetable dishes, tarhana (soup), lentils, soups with yogurt, pasta, rice, cheese, eggs, milk, red meat, fish, chicken, yoghurt, fruit.

Allergic foods such as honey, mushrooms, eggplants, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, nuts, shellfish and mustard should not be given before 1 year of age. Gluten-free foods that consist of wheat can be given with care. Instead of cereals consisting of wheat, corn and rice can be preferred and potatoes and carrots can be preferred as vegetables as they are less allergenic foods.

In order to ensure complementary nutrition, it is important that home-prepared foods are preferred and ready-made baby formula is avoided as much as possible. All family members to pay attention to the rules of healthy eating will allow your growing child to gain a healthy eating habit.

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