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You met the man, or woman, of your dreams, searched through all those home for sale in Connecticut, found just the right place to raise a family, and now that you’re a parent, you want to give your baby the best nutrition possible to get him or her off to the best start in life.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises giving babies only breast milk during their first six months of life, and then continuing to provide breast milk while providing other foods until they’re at least 1 year old, or even longer if possible. They need the appropriate nutrients to grow as well as to learn how to stay healthy while growing into a child and adolescent. In fact, the right nutrition can make a significant difference in how your baby will respond to foods as an adult.
But if you don’t know a lot about baby nutrition, there are some essential do’s and don’ts that can help ensure you’re doing the best you can for your infant.
Don’t: Never feed solid foods from a bottle as it can be a choking hazard and even lead to a delay in appropriate feeding skills as well as encourage overeating. Choking is one of the top causes of death and injury among children, especially among children younger than four years of age, according to the AAP. Most choking-related incidents are linked to food, coins and toys.
Do: Start solid foods safely and slowly. Not only do you need to think about the types of solid foods to feed your baby, but how to introduce them. The best way to start is not from a highchair. Instead, hold your baby on your lap, upright, sitting up straight and facing forward to reduce the risk of choking. After he or she gets accustomed to eating solid foods, then you can move on to a high chair.
Don’t: Be misinformed. Everyone wants to give you advice on exactly what you should do when it comes to your baby, but opinions about them and how to raise them can run to absurd extremes, and some recommendations may even be harmful.
Do: Knowledge about appropriate baby nutrition means staying up on the latest research and ahead of friends. That doesn’t mean reading a parent’s blog post, but scientifically researched studies, and advice from your baby’s healthcare provider or a pediatric nutritionist.
Don’t: Give baby foods he or she shouldn’t have. That includes anything that is very hard, like hard candy, or raw vegetables such as carrots. Even large fruits like grapes or jumbo-sized blueberries can be a choking hazard. Nuts, honey, fish (especially shellfish), are all no-nos. Ask your pediatrician if you aren’t sure about giving baby any particular food.
Do: Give baby age-appropriate foods. At around six months of age, the recommended foods are mashed banana or avocado, cooked and pureed sweet potato, carrots and peas; cooked beans; infant cereal with breast milk or formula, and cooked, pureed poultry or meat. By nine months, or when baby has a few teeth, you can slice and quarter a banana rather than mash it up and cut up all sorts of vegetables like green beans into small manageable pieces.