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Baby Foods – Breast Feeding and Weaning
After a baby is born, the best way to continue feeding him or her is through breastfeeding. Of course, breast milk is only as good as the raw materials that her diet provides to make it, but the balance of nutrients in breast milk in a well-nourished woman is greater than that of formula milks. One key aspect is the high amounts of essential fats needed for intellectual development – this is why children who have been breastfed have a higher IQ. Other research has found that breastfed babies are less prone to infections, digestive problems or allergies. And for the mother, breastfeeding not only helps shed any excess pregnancy weight (it burns an extra 500 calories a day), it also reduces her risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
The best gift you can offer your child is to breastfeed them exclusively for six months. This is because their digestive tracts are not mature enough by this time to tolerate any other type of food, and if they are exposed, then they are more likely to develop allergies. After six months, you can start introducing your baby to the joys of solid food. When they stop sleeping through the night from hunger – or start to develop teeth – that’s a good sign they’re ready.
At the beginning of weaning, give your baby food that is easy to digest – cooked, pureed vegetables and fruits are a good start (or choose sugar, salt and additive-free organic pre-made baby purees). The longer you wait to introduce the most commonly allergenic foods, the less likely it is that your child will develop an allergy to them. I recommend waiting up to 9 months before introducing soy and 12 months for wheat, milk, nuts and citrus. For everyone else, introducing one new food each day and being aware of any reaction (eg skin rash, eczema, runny nose, colic, diarrhea and excessive sleepiness) will also help you spot any other potentially allergenic foods. And like healthy adults, healthy babies need food that is fresh, organic, unprocessed, additive-free, salt-free and sugar-free.
As long as you continue to breastfeed between solid feeds, you do not need to supplement your baby’s diet with cow’s milk. However, when you do stop, you will need to make sure they are getting a good source of calcium. Despite popular belief, milk does not provide the best source of calcium – sesame seeds, sardines, almonds, spring greens, watercress, Brazil nuts and kale all provide more and are also high in other minerals, essential fats and proteins (but I don’t does). t is advised to introduce nuts and seeds until your baby is a year old). At this point, adding ground seeds to cereals and soups, making dishes with lentils and beans, and including milk occasionally or calcium-fortified soy or rice milk is the best way to achieve optimal calcium intake.
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