For at least the first four months of life, the only food your baby needs is milk. Breastmilk is, without doubt, the best
form of nutrition for all babies. There are many benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby:
*Breastmilk is perfectly balanced in terms of nutrients.
*Breastmilk contains antibodies from your body. These will help your baby fight infection and illness, as well as
preventing your baby from developing allergies, eczema and asthma.
*Breastmilk brings you and your baby closer together.
*Breastmilk is ready to drink at any time of the day and night, without requiring any special preparation.
*Breastfeeding uses up extra fat stored by the body during pregnancy which helps you lose weight.
*Breastfeeding is free.
Introducing solid food to your baby
When you think about the challenges of parenthood, few are as important as meeting a child's nutritional needs
at such unique stage of growth. The World Heath Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first
6 months, but follow the advice of your doctor when introducing solid foods. Starting solid foods too early may trigger
allergies and overfeeding, while introducing solid foods too late is also undesirable. These complementary foods help
a child to get used to the taste and texture of food - They are not the main source of nutrition, and milk feeds should
continue to meet the bulk of the child's nutritional requirements.
At approximately 6 months of age there is a new stage of rapid brain growth and this greatly increases the weaning
baby's need for iron. Babies should be introduced to iron-rich foods at around this age, such as meat, fish, liver and
Introducing solid goods into your baby's diet can be divided into three stages that correspond with physical and
feeding milestones which take place as the baby matures. They are:
The learner eater stage
Your baby is entering a new world of sensation and skill during this "learner eater" stage. He learns to use his lips and
tongue for eating, and the world of taste and texture opens up to him. He is at this stage when he has good head and
neck control when sitting with support, and can push up with his arms when placed on his stomach.
The smooth texture of infant cereals makes them an ideal starter food for babies, allowing them to learn to eat and
swallow solid food easily.Therafter, pureed fruit such as apples, pears, and peaches as well as vegetables such as
sweet potato, butternut and carrots, can slowly be introduced.
The explorer eater stage
At this stage baby's little fingers want to explore food textures. It is a time when food is splattered about as baby
explores the feeding process. When entering the explorer eater stage they can sit unsupported and eat from a spoon,
and they begin to drink from a cup. The foods appropriate at this stage should be coarse to develop baby's chewing
and swalling skills.
A bigger variety of fruits, vegetables, starches, porridges and cereals can be introduced at this stage.
The confident eater stage
At this stage the baby is ready for more interesting textures and new taste sensations. He can sit alone easily,
feed himself finger foods, drink from a cup and he begins to chew. Finger foods are ideal for this stage in addition to
his balanced meals, such as dried bread, infant rusks, cheese, pieces of fruit and dried fruit.
Some helpful hints:
*Feed your baby when he is rested or relaxed.
*There is no need to force your baby to take foods if he is not interested - relax and try again later.
*First foods should be simple - only introduce one new food at a time for 2 - 3 days before introducing another.
*Do not be tempted to add cereals to milk in a bottle.
*Expressed breastmilk can be used for the preparation of cereals.
*Finger foods can help develop the baby's co-ordination, and may help sooth sore gums when teeth are erupting -
dried bread or baby rusks are good for this purpose.
*Peanuts and egg white should not be introduced before 1 year of age, particularly for children who may be predisposed to
*The replacement of breast feeding or infant formula with fresh cow's milk should be restricted to at least 1 year of age.
*Diluted fruit -juices should be introduced only after 6 months.
*Fruit juices can damage your baby's teeth, as they are acidic and contains natural sugars.
They should therefore, always be well diluted and not given between meals meals or at bedtime to help prevent tooth
*Slowly introduce a variety of foods so that by the age of 12 months, your baby has a diet similar to that of the family.