New mums and dads have a trillion things to worry about, from what clothes their little ones should wear, habits and routines they should start forming early and arguably most important of all: how to keep their babies well nourished and healthy! Beginning your child’s life with healthy, nourishing options that are appropriate for their stage of development, is one way to give them the best possible start.
The scary yet exciting phase of starting to bring up your first child can be made simpler by following a few simple tips:
Breastfeed If You Can
If at all possible, breastfeeding is the way to go, at least for the first few months. The properties of breastmilk are unique and are exactly what your child needs to strengthen and grow in the initial phases of his or her development. An ideal situation would probably be exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after your little one’s birth, unless there are unusual extenuating circumstances. It is easy for their digestive tracts and contains all the nutrients they need.
This is not to say breastfeeding comes without challenges. Speaking to a doctor or even a family member or friend who has successfully breastfed their child might help you with your process! Also browsing different pieces of baby equipment that might ease the transition to parenting can be extremely helpful.
Introduction To Solid Foods
Don’t rush into introducing your baby to solid foods. Certainly do not do so before they are 4 months old, and in some cases you might want to wait until 6 months! It all depends on your child and their development, as each case is unique. Around this time, they may be starting to become more physically engaged, so consider investing in simple toys such as cubby houses and play mats, that you can place your baby in or on for supervised play.
With this increase in physical activity, starting to incorporate solid foods will give them the energy that they need to learn and develop skills. Slowly start to introduce different foods, being careful to try each type in isolation so you are able to establish any allergies or negative reactions that your baby may have.
Sweet Potatoes Are An Excellent Health Food
When your little ones start on solid foods, sweet potatoes are a healthy, versatile superfood that has numerous benefits. Dietitian Sharon Natoli gives us five reasons sweet potatoes are a super meal addition for little ones:
1) Bright eyes - Vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes and skin. One serve (which for children is 75g) of sweet potatoes provides children (1-3 years) with their recommended daily intake of vitamin A.
2) Growing bodies - Sweet potato is a source of folate, which helps healthy cell division and is particularly important during growth spurts.
3) Stop sniffles - A serve of sweet potatoes provides young children with more than 60% of their recommended daily intake of vitamin C. This essential vitamin is a key part of the immune system and plays an important role in helping to absorb iron from foods.
4) Strong muscles - Sweet potato is a source of magnesium, which is needed for healthy nerve and muscle functioning.
5) Healthy tummies - Sweet potato is good for little tummies. It is high in fibre to promote a healthy digestive system and to help keep kids regular.
Which Solid Foods Should They Start With?
You probably want to start your little one on baby food, which could consist of mushed up fruits and vegetables or rice-based cereals. You may also want to start introducing your child to cow’s milk, and see how they respond, although this should not replace breastmilk or formula early on. When still in the first few months of solid food, the food offered should be mushy in texture, but can slowly become tougher so that they learn how to chew foods of different consistency.
Ultimately there are only so many rules that can be followed, and each baby or child’s case is going to be different. You are best off going slow and being very observant, observing how your baby appears physically and emotionally. Your parenting instincts will kick in and you’ll know what is suiting your little one and what isn’t!