It is a universal recommendation that all babies should be exclusively breastfed or given infant formula milk up to the age of six months. Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their babies unless there are special considerations since breast milk has been found to be more superior to infant formula milk.
Breastfeeding has been associated with better immunity for the infant, reduced risks of sudden infant death, increasing bonding between mother and baby and breastfed babies have higher IQ than babies fed on formulas.
From 6 months, start weaning the baby from breast milk by gradually introducing solid diet. The digestive system for the baby is more developed now and can tolerate solid food in small amounts.
Start with soft diet like cooked mashed potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots and others. Remember that the baby will not start by taking large amounts but small amounts then supplemented with breast milk or milk formula as tolerated.
As the baby tolerates mashed soft diet, introduce finger licks like ripe bananas to enable them learn how chew.
At ages of 8 to 9 months, the baby has learned how to chew and may be appropriate time to introduced soft chewable food like soft chicken meat; fish (make sure there are no bones).
Introducing cow or goat milk has certain considerations. From 6 months of age cow’s milk can be mixed with other foods for the baby. Having cow’s or goat’s milk as a drink should begin from one year of age. Skimmed milk is not a good choice for children less than 5 years of age.
FOOD PROTEIN ALLERGIES IN BABIES.
Protein food allergies like milk, eggs and nut allergy seems to be getting common in babies than before. Allergy usually happens when the immune system registers the food protein as harmful and the body produces chemicals which produce signs of allergy.
Increasing hygiene standards have been hypothesized to be one of the contributing factors to development of allergy. Increasing cleanliness puts the immune system of babies at throes of under stimulation with less bacteria and viruses to fight. This may cause the under stimulated immune system to respond inappropriately to food proteins like milk, eggs or nuts causing an allergy.
There is this idea that delaying allergenic protein foods in babies like milk, eggs and nuts helps in prevention of allergy development in babies and children is no longer valid. At the age of six months when the baby is gradually being weaned from breast milk, give baby one protein at a time and watch closely for any sign of allergy. If the baby has an existing allergic condition, you may need to consult your pediatrician before introducing the protein foods to the baby.