Archive for 18/11/2011

Should I be giving my baby vitamins?

Fruit Vitamin Pills

This is a common question I get from other mums. Vitamin D is particularly topical at the moment with rickets making a reappearance. Here is the latest guidance on vitamin supplementation.

Vitamin drops containing vitamins A and D should be given to;

  • Babies over 6 months drinking less than 500ml of formula
  • Children that are fussy eaters
  • Those of Asian, African or Middle-Eastern descent
  • Children in northern areas of the UK
  • Breastfed infants over 6 months of age
  • Breastfed infants over 1 month of age if their mother did not take vitamin D during pregnancy or has poor vitamin D status

Please speak to your GP, health visitor or pharmacist if you fall into any of these groups to ensure that you take the correct supplementation. You may be eligible for Healthy Start vitamins. Please don’t self prescribe as taking vitamins can be harmful if they are not necessary.

TOP TIP: A balanced diet should provide all the vitamins and minerals we need but in some cases supplementation may be required

Reference: Venter C (2011) First Tastes. Journal of Family Health Care 21 (5): 14-17

Variety is the spice of life

IMG_1654

There is some evidence to show that the more foods, textures and flavours you can introduce to your baby during weaning, the less fussy he/she will be later on in life. Don’t be scared to rattle through new foods but repetition of foods is also important. Tasting a food or drink more often increases the liking for it so don’t give up!

TOP TIP: Try to strike a good balance between introducing new flavours and repeating old ones.

Reference: Harris G (2008). Development of taste and food preferences in children. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 11 (3): 315-319

 

 

When your child says no

Oscar sweet potato grimace

It’s official. Oscar does not enjoy broccoli. I found myself performing tricks like a circus monkey to sneak in an extra teaspoon. And then he just got more annoyed. Fair enough. I remember the same response to my mother’s cajoling when I was a child.

Try not to force your child, even if you have slaved over that meal. You wouldn’t want them to develop negative associations with solids, would you? Learning to like foods takes time.

Here are some signs that your little one has had enough;

  • Keeps his mouth shut
  • Turns head away
  • holds food in his mouth and refuses to swallow
  • Cries or screams
  • Gags or retches
  • Pushes away the spoon or food offered

TOP: No means no. Accept it and put the spoon down.

 

Types of drinks

Oscar Drinking

Water

  • This is the best drink alternative to milk. 
  • Before 6 months boil tap water (from the mains tap in the kitchen) and allow it to cool before serving. If you are abroad and unsure of the water quality, do boil the water before giving it to your little one.
  • Bottled water is not a better alternative to tap water as it is not usually sterile. It may also have high levels of minerals such as sodium. 

Milk

  • Cow’s Milk – Before 1 year, formula and breastmilk are the best drink options as cow’s milk does not have enough iron. You can use full fat cow’s milk in cooking. After 1 year, you can introduce whole cow’s milk as a main drink.
  • Follow-on milk – These milks are marketed at babies over 6 months as these have higher amounts of protein and some minerals. There is no need to change to follow on milk as your baby should be getting these additional nutrients from solid food.
  • Pasteurised sheep’s and goat’s milk are also not advised before 1 year
  • Rice milk should not be offered at all until 5 years old to reduce exposure to inorganic arsenic.

Juice

  • There is no need to offer fruit juice at all if your baby is eating fruit. The longer you can avoid offering sweetened drinks the better. 
  • If you do offer fruit juice, please ensure it is well diluted with water – 1 part juice to 10 parts water.

Other drinks

  • Squashes, flavoured milk, fizzy drinks and juice drinks should be avoided due to their sugar content. 
  • Drinks with sweeteners should also not be offered (check any labels that say ‘no added sugar’!). 
  • Tea and coffee are not suitable as they reduce iron absorption.

TOP TIP: Water or milk are the best drinks to offer at meal times

Beaker or Cup?

Freeflow cup

As you progress with solids, your baby will be thirsty at meals times. Offer your baby some sips of water during the meal.

Before 6 months

Exclusive breastfeeding or formula milk

6 Months

Help your baby learn to sip and not suck. Introduce a lidded free-flow beaker with two or three small holes. This is a new skill so you may want to hold the beaker and gently tip it so your baby gets small amounts at a time. Over time they will learn to hold it themselves. Non-spill (valved) beakers are not recommended as your baby does not learn how to sip.

9 Months

From 7 months you can start to decrease the amount of milk you give your baby as they start to eat more solid food. Outside of meals you can continue with breastfeeding/bottle feeds (approximately 600ml/day) until 1 year of age. During meals offer sips of water from an open cup. Some babies find the doidy cup as a good transition to the open cup. As your baby masters the beaker or cup you may want to offer milk feeds in this instead of a bottle. When out and about you can also start to offer water from a beaker.

12 Months

From 1 year, your little one no longer needs a bottle. Continued bottle use is associated with tooth decay and may delay speech development.

 

TOP TIP: Be prepared learning to drink can be very messy!