Eating: feeding milestones in children
At this tender age new born infants, the baby fully depends on the mother for everything including his nutritional needs. Before he gets to 6 months of age, he needs to be exclusively breastfed.
- Babies between 6 and 12 months old
At about 6 months of age, babies are usually ready to start on solid foods. Signs that your baby might be ready for solid food include:
- Ability to hold the head up and sit up when supported
- Shows interest in food, grabs spoons and food and puts it in his mouth
- He opens up the mouth when you offer him food, closes his mouth around the spoon and makes motions as though he is chewing.
- He can move food back in his mouth and is able to safely swallow.
- He’s still hungry even after 8 breast milk feedings
- Don’t wait too long to introduce solid foods but don’t start too early either. Look out for signs that the baby is actually ready for it.
- Cooked and mashed food, semi-liquid cereal and fruits are often the first solid foods to be added to the bay’s diet. The food should be mashed finely. Over time, thicker and coarser varieties of food can be given at around 12 months.
- The baby may often reject the food offered by tightly shutting his mouth, crying, pushing the food away and turning his head away when you try to feed him. It may be that the baby is full or he doesn’t like the food. Be patient and try again after some time.
- When he is about 9 months old, give him finger foods. Cut food into small pieces that the baby can eat without the danger of choking. Don’t give small hard foods that can easily choke him.
- Encourage him to take water from a cup
- Expect messy eating as he starts to try eating on his own and learns to chew and swallow.
At this age, toddlers often develop strong opinions when it comes to feeding and will be very choosy about they eat, how long they eat and who feeds them.
- Lay out a variety of foods for them to taste in one meal.
- Give them a sense of control on their feeding. Let them choose how much food they eat and where they want to have it.
- School going age
By the time children start going to school, they are usually able to feed themselves and can be expected to observe basic table manners during meal times. At this age, you can easily sit on the table with the rest of family during meals and have a chat.
- Young children require food to be available regularly. Give your child at least 3 meals a day with healthy snacks in between.
- Note also that young children will often observe and imitate what you do so teach them by example. If you display a willingness to try new and healthy foods, they will also try it.
- As long as your baby is active and healthy, don’t push too much to make them eat a particular amount of food.