Baby Nutrition

The best food for baby

Feeding your baby during the first year of life is an exciting time for both parent and child. It's a time of skill acquisition, development, nutrition and fun. Like all parents, you probably want your child to get the best start possible — proper baby nutrition is the first step to ensuring that your baby gets all the nutrients and vitamins that he or she needs to be healthy.

Starting Out Healthy

The best start you can give your baby is to breastfeed in the first year of life. Breastfeeding has benefits for both mother and baby, and breast milk is nature's most perfect food, containing all the nutrients, antibodies and vitamins tailored exactly to your baby's needs. However, if you choose not to or cannot breastfeed, baby formula is a good second choice and will give your baby the nutrition required until you can introduce solid foods. Either breast milk or formula should be baby's primary source of nutrition until he or she is one year old.

You can start giving your baby solid food between the ages of four months and six months. You should not give your baby solid food before this age, as it can cause digestive problems. Many people prefer to start with baby cereal, made of rice or wheat, to begin teaching their baby how to eat. However, some parents prefer to start with banana or avocado as baby's first food. At this age, solid food is only for practice — one or two small meals a day of a few tablespoons of food should be sufficient. You can choose to feed your baby commercial or homemade baby food, or soft table foods cut into small pieces.

Most infants will cry or let you know when they're hungry, normally every two to three hours, but you can choose to implement an infant feeding schedule if you wish. However, don't attempt to do this with newborns — they should be fed on demand to prevent failure to thrive, a condition in which the baby does not progress developmentally.

When you start solids, be on the lookout for allergies and food sensitivities. There is a correlation between some types of baby food and diaper rash — sometimes, the acidity or other content of the food can cause your baby's skin to become irritated through changes in the urine or stool. Allergies can cause a more adverse reaction, so be careful to only introduce one solid at a time.

Introducing your baby to the world of food is an exciting time. Make sure to do it carefully and knowledgeably, and soon your baby will have food likes and dislikes, just like you do, while they grow up big and strong.

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