baby nutrition milestones: from newborn
to 4 yrs old
Your baby is about to go through an amazing growth spurt. In their first year, babies triple their birth weight. To grow that much, they need a lot of nutrients — more than at any other time in their life.
Experts say breast milk is the best source of nutrition for babies during the first 6 months, but formula can be a good alternative.
Stages of Early Childhood
Breastfeeding or Formula Milk?
Breast milk and infant formula are the only two options of milk drink throughout the first 6 months of life. However, breast milk is the preferred option as it additionally provides protection against illness. Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.
Benefits of breastfeeding over formula feeding:
Optimal growth and development
Reduced incidence of gastrointestinal, urinary tract & respiratory infections
Growth factor, which enhance the infant’s gut development and maturation
Reduced risk of constipation
Reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Reduced incidence of some childhood cancers (leukaemia & lymphomas)
Fewer visits to the doctor in the first 2 years of life
Delay in return to menstruation allowing maternal iron stores to replenish following pregnancy and childbirth
Reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer
Helps the return to pre pregnant weight
Lower risk of postnatal depression
Women over the age of 65 years who have breastfed show a lower incidence of osteoporosis and hip fractures
Weaning is when a baby moves from breast milk to other sources of nourishment. It is conducted by introducing solid food step by step around 6 months and breast milk/formula milk have to be continued until 2 years old.
When to start solid food with baby?
- Have good head and neck control
- Can sit upright when supported
- Show an interest in food, for example, when they look at food on your plate and watch you eat
- Reach out for your food
- Open their mouth when offered food on a spoon.
How to start solid food with baby?
- Sit directly in front of baby. Offer the spoon and wait for baby’s mouth to open before attempting to feed.
Use a small spoon and place a tiny amount of food between their lips. It may slide out of the mouth but gradually the baby will learn to move the food to the back of mouth to swallow.
Do not force the baby to finish the food. Indicate fullness by:
not opening the mouth
pull away from spoon
push food out of the mouth
When breast milk is no longer enough to meet the nutritional needs of the infant, complementary foods should be added to the diet of the child. The transition from exclusive breastfeeding to family foods, referred to as complementary feeding, typically covers the period from 6 to 18-24 months of age, and is a very vulnerable period.
Complementary feeding should be timely, meaning that all infants should start receiving foods in addition to breast milk from 6 months onwards. It should be adequate, meaning that the complementary foods should be given in amounts, frequency, consistency and using a variety of foods to cover the nutritional needs of the growing child while maintaining breastfeeding.
7 Things To Take Note On Complementary Food
Bland Taste (no sugar, no salt, no soy sauce, no hot spices)
Emphasize on foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin D and iron (at risk of deficiency)
Avoid giving chunks of hard food larger than 0.5 cm and supervise children during mealtimes to avoid choking.
Change food texture and preparation methods gradually as the baby gets older as below:
Frequency of complementary food should be increased with age as below & milk continued based on baby’s need:
Wait 3 to 5 days between each new food. This helps you see if your child has any problems with that food, such as food allergies.
Offer infants a wide variety of foods by 12 months so that they will be more familiar with and accept before food neophobia begins in their second year.
Frequently Asked Questions from Moms
By the time your little one is 1 year old, he should be eating the same foods as the rest of the family. Energy is vital to maintain all body functions. It is obtained from carbohydrates, protein and fats. Vitamins and minerals are vital for health as they perform hundreds of functions in the body. A balanced diet can supply all the necessary vitamins and minerals.
This is how your plate should be look like in order to have a balanced diet:
Example of Malaysian Healthy Plate: