Until the age of 6 months, exclusive breastfeeding fulfills your baby’s nutritional requirements. But soon after the 6th month, nutritional needs increase due to the rapid growth and development that occurs during the early years. As a result, it is necessary to introduce nutrient-dense foods alongside breast milk to fill nutritional gaps and complement the nutrition that breast milk gives.
Big Needs, Small Tummies
During the early years, your little one grows rapidly. There is significant growth - not only in terms of height and weight, but also in terms of brain growth and cognitive development. Most brain development occurs during the first 2 years of life, by the end of which the brain reaches 80% of its final size. To support such exponential growth, your infant’s body increases its nutritional demands. At the same time, infants also have very small stomachs, and can only eat small amounts at each meal.
The increased nutritional demands imply that your baby needs food alongside breast milk to fill nutritional gaps. These can be introduced after the 6 month mark, and in small quantities. The weaning transition helps your little one get used to new tastes and textures. You can start by introducing small quantities of mashed fruit, vegetable or fortified cereal.
Increased Nutrient Needs
A common deficiency that begins around this age is an iron deficiency, because the iron needs of an infant significantly increase to support rapid brain growth. Introducing iron-rich foods like fortified cereals, sweet potato and spinach in mashed form can help fulfill the nutritional gap. To help the body absorb iron, there should also be an adequate amount of Vitamin C, which can be obtained through different mashed fruits and vegetables.
Due to the small tummy of your infant, it is important that you focus on feeding your little one nutrient-dense foods. These foods ensure maximum nutrition in small quantities. They also help avoid nutritional deficiencies, which are common around the time that complementary feeding begins.
Pay attention to the food you introduce to ensure that you introduce a variety of foods. It can help your little one get optimal nutrition. Rather than focusing on the quantity of food, pay attention to the nutrients in food.
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.