by Philemon kwizera, RN

The goals of infant feeding are to meet all nutritional needs, Complementary foods are solid foods and fluids other than breast milk and formula. WHO recommends that infants start receiving complementary foods at 6 months of age in addition to breast milk. Initially, begin to introduce other foods and continue breastfeeding on demand, both day and night.

When giving complementary foods to your baby, think about: Frequency, Amount, Thickness, Variety, Responsive Feeding, and Hygiene.

The introduction of solid foods before the age of 4 to 6 months is not recommended. The child’s gastrointestinal tract and kidneys are not sufficiently developed to handle solid food before that age. Further, it is thought that the early introduction of solid foods may increase the likelihood of overfeeding and the possibility of the development of food allergies, particularly in children whose parents suffer from allergies.

How many times infant should receive complementary foods a day?

They should receive complementary foods:

  • 2-3 times a day between 6-8 months
  • and increase to 3-4 times daily between 9-11 months and 12-24 months.
  • Additional nutritious snacks should also be offer 1-2 times per day for ages 12-24 months, as desired.

What will demonstrate an infant’s readiness for solid foods?

An infant’s readiness for solid foods will be demonstrated by

  1. The physical ability to pull food into the mouth rather than always pushing the tongue and food out of the mouth (extrusion reflex disappears by 4–6 months.
  2. A willingness to participate in the process
  3. The ability to sit up with support
  4. Having head and neck control
  5. The need for additional nutrients, If the infant is drinking more than 32 ounces of formula or nursing 8 to 10 times in 24 hours and is at least 4 months old, then solid food should be started.

Which types of food to start with?
Solid foods must be introduced gradually and individually. One food is introduced and then no other new food for 4 or 5 days:
Infants can eat pureed, mashed and semi-solid foods beginning at 6 months.
• By 8 months most infants can also eat “finger foods” (snacks that can be eaten by children alone).
• By 12 months, most children can eat the same types of foods as consumed by the rest of the family, while keeping in mind the need for nutrient-dense foods, including animal-sourced foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products.
One food is introduced and then no other new food for 4 or 5 days. If there is no allergic reaction, another food can be introduced, a waiting period allowed, then another, and so on.
Which typical order of introduction to begin with ?

The typical order of introduction begins thick porridge (corn, wheat, rice, millet, and sorghum), mashed banana or mashed potato. Cooked and pureed vegetables follow, then cooked and pureed fruits, egg yolk, and, finally, finely ground meats.

Which food is not recommended to be given to the infant

  • Avoid foods in a form that may cause choking, such as raw carrots.
  • Avoid giving drinks with low nutrient value, such as tea, coffee and sugary soft drinks.
  • Juice should never be given from a bottle because babies will fill up on it and not get enough calories from other sources.
  • Honey should never be given to an infant because it could be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum bacteria.
  • Milk or fresh milk is prohibited to be given to babies younger than 1 year old.

How will you ensure the responsive feeding
• Be patient and actively encourage your baby to eat. Do not force your baby to eat.
• Use a separate plate to feed the baby to make sure he or she eats all the food given.
• Encourage your child to eat by copying how others are eating and congratulate him or her
• Smile and talk with your baby while feeding. Respond to his or her sounds and interests.
• If your baby is having difficulty in eating or swallowing, take your baby to the health center for an assessment.

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