How Many Calories Does A 6 Year Old Boy Need Your Baby’s First Foods

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Your Baby’s First Foods

When your baby is 4-6 months old, it’s time to start introducing solid foods. This can be daunting for many first-time parents. What do you feed them? How much should you give and when should you start?

When to start? 4 months… 6 months… or somewhere in between? The jury is still out on this one so the answer is… when you and your baby are ready. When your baby is 6 months old, breast milk or formula alone does not provide enough iron, zinc or calories to meet your baby’s needs. Your baby is not ready yet if:

* He/she is younger than 4 months (ie before 17 weeks).

* Can’t sit in a semi-reclined high chair without falling to one side.

* Your doctor has advised you to delay solid food due to health problems.

* Premature babies may be advised to delay solid foods based on expected due date, check with your doctor.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months. The reason for this recommendation was to reduce the number of infant deaths in developing countries. When solid foods or even formula are introduced in unsanitary conditions, there is a high risk of gastroenteritis and infection – the older the infant, the better the chances of survival. However, studies in developed countries have shown no difference in gastroenteritis rates when solid foods are introduced after 4 months. The WHO also mentions that exclusive breastfeeding until six months could lead to growth retardation, iron and other micronutrient deficiencies in some infants.

So why would you wait up to 6 months if you live in a developed country? All babies develop at different rates and your baby may just not be ready. Alternatively, you as a parent may not be ready – perhaps you’re away on holiday, nervous about starting solids or just enjoying the simplicity of exclusive breastfeeding. Don’t stress yourself out waiting up to 6 months is perfectly fine. You’ll just have to go through the first stages of solid foods a little faster than if you’d started at 4 months to ensure your baby introduces meat to his diet sooner.

If you start at 4 months you can take it slow, there is no rush, nutritionally breast milk or formula is fine until 6 months, so food is a bonus. By the time your baby is 6 months old, she will have tried a range of fruits, vegetables and grains so you can easily add the meat she needs to give her the iron and zinc she needs. You will also have more time to puree before transitioning to a lumpy texture.

Before you start you will need:

* A good high chair – this is an item worth investing in as it will be used daily for the next few years. Look for one with a removable tray, adjustable seat tilt, vinyl so it’s easy to wipe clean, castors so you can pull it closer to you, adjustable height so you can move from bench to dining table, seat belts, colors and designs that you like them – they will be in your kitchen for a while and finally it has to fit your budget.

There are reviews of many high chairs on YouTube, so do a quick search for the ones you’re considering before buying.

* bowls – look for bowls with a suction bottom so that there are fewer accidents when your child starts feeding independently.

* spoons – the first spoons should be soft, and the head of the spoon should be smaller than a teaspoon.

* colanders – I like the ones with a plastic spatula that can go in the dishwasher, but if they’re too big, use fabric ones to start with – the pumpkin will stain so don’t go for white.

* Food – you can make your own and freeze it or buy age-appropriate baby food from the grocery store.

* Make sure everything is clean and your hands are washed before preparing or feeding your baby.

Questions

When should I add another meal to the day? Once your baby is happily eating 2-3 spoonfuls, it’s time to add another meal.

When to start eating food with lumps instead of puree? at 6-9 months, babies start chewing even though they don’t have teeth, then small soft lumps can start to appear in the food. Chewing helps develop jaw muscles that are important for speech. At 9-12 months you can start feeding with your fingers. (Note that if you are starting solids at 6 months, start purees first).

When can my baby drink water from a cup? From about 6 months you can offer water from a soft sippy cup (water is best, not juice).

When can I switch and offer breastfeeding after solid food instead of before? By 9 months, solid meals should be fairly plentiful and you can start offering breastfeeding elsewhere at mealtimes. The amount taken at these feedings will gradually decrease.

Why do people say different things about when to start with allergenic foods? Many years ago, it was speculated that delaying the introduction of risky foods such as eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, cow’s milk and fish could help prevent food allergies. Studies that have been carried out since then have shown that there is no benefit. In fact, new studies seem to show that the opposite may be true with one showing that introducing wheat before 6 months reduced the risk of celiac disease and wheat allergy. Other studies are still needed in this area. See the Australian Society for Clinical Immunology and Allergy fact sheet for more information on this. If you have a family history of food allergies, then you know that they can be life-threatening, so talk to your doctor or dietitian about the best time to introduce these foods.

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