What is complementary feeding and why is it important?
Complementary feeding is the process of introducing solid foods to infants who are still being breastfed or formula-fed. It typically begins when the infant is around six months old. Complementary feeding is important because it provides the necessary nutrients that cannot be obtained from breast milk or formula alone, and it also helps to develop the infant's oral and motor skills. Infants should consume a variety of foods from all of the food groups, including fruits and vegetables, grains, protein-rich foods, and dairy. This helps to ensure that they are getting all of the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and development.
Texture and consistency
When your child reach 6 months of age, it is best to introduce something of a smoother consistency first, such as pureed foods for your child. Other foods that can be introduced at this stage include pureed fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potato, squash, and applesauce. As the infant becomes more comfortable with solid foods, the texture and consistency of the foods can be gradually increased. This helps to develop their oral and motor skills, and prepare them for eventually eating more solid foods. At around eight to ten months old, infants can typically handle soft finger foods, such as cooked vegetables and fruit, small pieces of cheese or tofu, and soft, cooked pasta. It is crucial to cut foods into small pieces to avoid choking hazards and to always supervise infants while they are eating.
Introducing solid foods
When introducing solid foods, it is important to start with iron-rich foods, such as iron-fortified cereals, pureed meat, poultry, and fish. Iron is important for brain development, and babies need more iron than older children and adults. It is recommended to introduce one new food at a time, waiting two to three days before introducing another food. This allows parents to monitor for any allergic reactions or digestive issues that may arise.
Is breastfeeding still needed during complementary feeding?
Breastfeeding should continue alongside complementary feeding, as breast milk still provides important nutrients and antibodies that help to protect infants from infections and illnesses. Breastfeeding can also help to support a healthy immune system, and it can help to reduce the risk of certain diseases later in life. It is recommended to breastfeed for at least the first year of life, and beyond if possible.
In conclusion, complementary feeding is an important part of infant nutrition, as it provides additional nutrients and helps to develop oral and motor skills. It is important to introduce solid foods gradually and to monitor for any allergic reactions or digestive issues. A variety of foods from all of the food groups should be included in the infant's diet, and breastfeeding should continue alongside complementary feeding for at least the first year of life.
This article is written by Sylvia Ho (Nutritionist) for Green Image Organic Enterprise Sdn. Bhd.
- Muiz, M. (2016, March 16). Complementary feeding. PORTAL MyHEALTH. Retrieved May 2, 2023, from http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/complementary-feeding/