posted on 04/24/2022 08:00
(credit: personal archive)
During the first six months of life, the child in some cases only receives breast milk or formula. After this period, as the digestive system develops, solid foods can be introduced, with restrictions and pediatric follow-up. The sixth month milestone also brings other signs to watch out for, such as interest in food and the instinct to chew.
according to Food guide for Brazilian children under 2 yearsof the Ministry of Health, is not only unnecessary, but taking anything before this stage of development is also harmful, as it can increase the risk of the child getting sick and reduce the absorption of nutrients in breast milk, such as iron and zinc .
In addition to being age-appropriate, signs of readiness are important. According to pediatrician Tiago Leite, they are: able to sit alone (or with minimal support); bringing objects and toys to the mouth; show an interest in consuming the food of close people; and the decrease in the lingual protrusion, meaning you don’t “talk” all the time. However, the doctor emphasizes that the indication of food during the consultation should be made by the pediatrician, and the signs are observed daily by those in charge.
“We should always identify the child’s milestones and do so at a respectful pace with the baby’s needs and wants so that the process isn’t traumatic,” he recommends. He also adds that if the little one is still not showing any signs, the introduction should be delayed, along with adjustments, adequate stimulation, and treatments for the condition as needed. Another important point is that the indicators for age and onset are the same, whether exclusive breastfeeding or using infant formula.
Children who for some reason do not drink breast milk should use formula, with volume and individual use and prescribed by the pediatrician. In addition to occasional cases, the rest of the children should consume milk, ideally until the age of two. Tiago Leite instructs: “Milk remains the staple food until the end of the first year of life”. This is the case of Laís Medeiros, mother of little Liz, 9 months old, who had to supplement breast milk with bottle feeding due to a medical indication.
The lawyer answered many questions with the pediatrician and nutritionist, spoke with other mothers and made a meal plan for her daughter, starting the diet gradually, with care and consideration for allergens. “The introduction of food has always been a big concern for me because I think that, since pregnancy, the child’s taste is learned depending on what the mother eats,” said Laís, who is allergic to peanuts and seafood and he feared that his daughter also had the same disability.
“I didn’t want Liz to go through these hardships, plus the dangerous reactions every time I accidentally eat something containing these ingredients.” Therefore, with nutritional planning, she introduced food gradually and was always prepared in case an abnormal reaction should occur. Fortunately, the baby had no problems and continues to consume new ingredients and breast milk to this day.
All of Liz’s food is natural and home made, but because Laís doesn’t have time to cook daily, she sets aside one day a week to prepare large quantities and freeze the food into cubes. In this way care is provided, because it is possible to control the cleaning procedure, quality and variety of food, ensure health and create good habits from an early age.
Nutritionist Marcella Madariaga explains that there are different ways to start eating, but the goal should always be to introduce the child to something new so that they know the flavors, preparations and ingredients. “When we think about introducing complementary foods, it’s imperative that it includes all food groups,” he explains. Because in this way it is possible that there is a variety on the menu that is important for the formation of the palate of your life, in addition to a balanced nutritional balance after two years, when it ceases to be complementary and the most important.
In addition to the diversity of ingredients, it is important that the food is separated on the plate. “It’s cultural for families to make soup, for the child to eat liquid foods and not have sensory experiences. They can’t identify what was consumed,” says Marcella. The recommendation is that the baby can get to know the taste of the food and its textures, even to have a fun and interactive moment, creating more interest during the meal. It is also interesting to vary the preparation, in case he somehow does not like it, such as the potato, which can be steamed, boiled or roasted and will bring different sensations at the time of consumption.
BLW, an acronym for Baby Led Weaning (“baby-led weaning”), consists of giving the little one autonomy, offering food and having the child put to the mouth. The downside for parents can be the mess as the child ends up playing with their food which is also part of the process. The traditional and cultural method is the parent’s offering, with the spoon being brought to the child’s mouth. In some cases, parents may confuse the two types, which would lead to a third, mixed introduction.
There is no right or wrong method, as long as there is respect when the child shows that he is satisfied, which may include turning his face away, clapping his hands on the table, or other behavior that indicates the boundary. Nutritionist Marcella emphasizes that unlike adults, children don’t eat more than they can handle and they may eat little at mealtime because of their small digestive system. Therefore, in addition to the signs of readiness to start, it is important to identify and understand the signs of satisfaction so as not to cause stress.
utensils and chair
To avoid suffocation, injuries and ensure comfort and well-being, it is necessary to adjust the place of the meal. Sandi Sato, pediatrician at Maternity Brasília, says screens and toys should be avoided so that the child does not acquire this habit early and is aware of what he is consuming. “As for the chair, there are several options on the market. Most importantly, it is regulated to ensure all safety protocols.”
In addition to a safe and sturdy place for the child to lean on, it is important to consider their reality when choosing cutlery and glasses. The doctor recommends avoiding metal or sharp objects to avoid damaging the baby’s mouth or gums. Cups should be prioritized over bottles as these can lead to premature weaning and dental problems in the future. There are different types of cups for this stage.
*Intern under the supervision of Sibele Negromonte