Ask a Nutritionist: Feeding a Healthy Infant

By Claire Dalidowitz, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Connecticut Children’s

11-18-14-1As a parent, there is nothing more important than the health of your little one. After all, a healthy diet is the cornerstone for a healthy child. But what foods should you be feeding (or not feeding) your infant to ensure he or she grows up be big and strong?

With so much misguided information out there, it can be extremely overwhelming to decipher between fact and fiction. Check out these rules of thumb when it comes to feeding your infant a healthy diet.

What to Feed Your Infant:

– During the first three months, breast milk will provide all the nutrition your infant needs. However, you may continue breast feeding until the infant is about 6 months of age. Breast feeding moms can supplement their diet with vitamin D in addition to consuming more fish or taking a DHA supplement.

– You can begin introducing THIN purees at 6 months. Purees of pure chicken, meat and baby cereal have great amounts of zinc and iron, which are very important for your infant’s diet.

– Once your infant has become comfortable with thin purees, you may begin to GRADUALLY thicken them by adding pureed vegetables and fruits.

– Your baby may begin to eat lumpy food once he or she has taken to thicker purees. And yes, allow touching!! Infants touch before they put anything in their mouths, so let them do so.

– Soft foods such as salmon, small pastas, scrambled eggs and cooked squash may be introduced next.

– By one year, your little one can eat most table food except those food items that pose choking risks such as popcorn, grapes, hot dogs and nuts.

– Try not to offer unprocessed foods without food dyes or additives. Natural foods, especially fruits and vegetables are not only nutritious, but colorful and captivating. Your little one will be just as interest, if not more so.

What NOT to Feed Your Infant

– Never add cereal or other food to a bottle as this can pose a choking hazard!

– Do not force food. Allow your baby to use his or her inborn cues of hunger and satiety.

– Never let your baby eat alone. Make it a social gathering or moment for bonding. When parents eat with a child, the child is more likely to eat the family foods.

– Don’t give up! If your child has tried a food one and does not like it, wait to introduce it again. Research suggests that 15 tries are necessary to combat neopyhobia (fear of the new).

– Don’t use food as a reward. “Eat your peas and I will give you a candy” gives preference to candy, not peas. By doing this, you are instilling bad habits that can branch off into adulthood. “Had a bad day? Have some candy to get you through it.”

Got more questions about infant feeding? Submit your question below and stay tuned for more blog posts from Connecticut Children’s Ask a Nutritionist!

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