Until the age of 6 months, exclusively feeding breast milk is adequate for an infant’s nutritional requirements. But soon after the 6 month mark, nutritional needs increase. So at this stage, breast milk needs to be complemented with appropriate choice of food to fill your little one’s nutritional gap.
Increasing Nutrient Needs
To support the immense growth at this stage, the body demands a greater amount of energy as well as micronutrients.
Most brain growth occurs before the age of 2 years, and iron is an important component of this growth. As a result, iron needs increase. Iron deficiencies increase around this age when iron stores begin to deplete and breast milk alone does not meet iron requirements. The deficiencies in iron can impact cognitive functions, and may cause iron-deficiency anemia.
Introducing foods rich in iron, like sweet potato, leafy greens, and fortified cereals can help avoid this. At the same time, your child also needs vitamin C from different fruits and vegetables as it helps in iron absorption. Foods like fruits and vegetables, beans, and leafy greens will also help fulfill your little one’s need for calcium and Vitamin A. Calcium and Vitamin A help support healthy bone growth. Vitamin A is also important for vision development and immunity.
Need For Nutrient-Dense Foods
An infant’s stomach is small, so the foods you introduce during the weaning transition need to be nutrient-dense so that a small quantity of these foods helps you give your baby optimal nutrition, fulfilling the increased needs and avoiding nutritional deficiencies.
Breastfeeding, along with energy and nutrient-dense foods like fortified cereals, can fulfil the increased calorie requirements, as well as act as a source of much-needed iron and vitamins during this age. Fortified cereals are a great partner to the nutrition provided by breast milk. They fulfil energy needs, are a source of micronutrients like iron and vitamins, and help fill up any nutritional gaps that may arise due to the fast growth during early years.
Keeping your baby nourished by introducing nutritious complementary foods in gradually increasing variety and quantity helps you ensure that the transition to solid foods is safe and happy.
Disclaimer: All the information provided in the blog is for reference purposes only. Please do not consider this as a medical advice. Start Healthy Stay Healthy programme is for educational purposes only, in partnership with doctors. Always consult a doctor if you have any questions related to your own health or the health of your child.