Immediately after the birth the baby’s immune system is not entirely developed. If the baby’s partners or close relatives have any of the allergies (like eczema or asthma), the baby will most likely have increased sensitivity to some foods, if they are introduced too early.
A food allergy is an excessive reaction of the immune system to a certain ingredient in the food. The foods which most commonly trigger an allergic reactions are eggs, nuts, sesame seed, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish and dairy. In the first year of life the child should not consume eggs; after this age they should be introduced gradually. In the beginning offer a quarter of hardboiled egg, the next time a half, and then a whole egg. Always begin with a hardboiled egg instead of a scrambled one. Many children are sensitive to nuts and sesame seed.
It is best to wait with them until the age of 3 and then introduce them gradually. Since numerous prepared foods contain different nuts, seeds and oils, carefully read the food labels, especially if the child has food allergies. Introduce fish around the age of 9 months, and make sure to remove all bones. Shellfish can be introduced after 2 years of age.
When bottle-feeding your baby always hold it in your hands. Do not lay the baby on the floor, in the cradle or in a carrier. When bottle-feeding a baby, its position matters – it should be upright and straight. Hold the baby in your arms, with its pelvis supported by the inner part of your thigh. Do not offer it the bottle from above or the sides but from the bottom. The nipple on the bottle and the pacifier should never be flat but should be round, which enables the baby to strengthen the muscles of the tongue and oral cavity.
When to begin spoon-feeding
After the fourth or fifth month of age you can begin feeding it by spoon. It is important not to put the baby in the feeding chair right away. Until the baby sits on its own and without help, it does not have enough strength to be sitting in a feeding chair on its own. Put the spoon with food directly in the middle of the mouth, while the baby’s head is facing front. Bring the spoon to the lips and wait for the baby to open the mouth and then put the spoon into the mouth. Do not insert only the tip of the spoon but the whole of it – make sure the spoon is not too large.
- The size of the spoon should fit the baby’s mouth. It has to be large enough to fit comfortably between the gums or teeth, when the tongue is depressed. If the spoon covers the gums, it is too big.
- It is better for the spoon to be shallower, so the baby can take the food off it with the lips.
- The spoon should be metal or made of hard enough plastic, so it does not bend during feeding when the tongue is depressed. The food must slide off it easily.
- The spoon should not be too thick since its thickness influences the feeling in the baby’s month.
Drinking of fluids during introduction of solid food
If the babies are breastfed, most do not feel the need for any additional fluids. When they begin eating solid food, most continue to breastfeed and therefore receive enough fluids. The less the baby breastfeeds, the more additional fluids they need. The amount a baby should consume can vary from baby to baby considerably, while this also depends on several other factors (temperature of the environment, air humidity, the other food it consumes, etc.). Some have no trouble accepting the bottle and later a cup, while others may have more difficulties. It is usually better for the child to begin drinking from the cup as soon as possible. Also, it is very important that the baby urinates regularly, which you can monitor when changing the nappies. You can also check the baby’s hydration by examining its fontanel. If it is properly hydrated the fontanel is not sunken. Around one year of age the child should know how to drink from the cup. It is important to choose a quality cup, which is low and wide enough, and wider at the opening. It should be flexible, so you can press it together and adapt it to the width of the mouth to avoid spilling. If the cup is transparent you can easily see how much to tip it, so the fluid reaches the lips.