At the beginning of your newborn’s life, it is recommended to exclusively breastfeed. As your baby grows older, they can start eating a variety of foods, starting from first soft foods and purees, to more varied textures and tastes over time. Here are some things to keep in mind at different ages:
0 to 6 months
The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding as a sole source of nutrition for newborns during the first six months of life. Breast milk contains all the nutrients the baby will need for these six months. That’s why it is necessary for you to pay special attention to your diet, as that will determine what nutrients are passed on to your baby. Continue to take vitamin supplements, if necessary.
6 to 12 months
As your baby reaches 6 months of age, their digestive system is better developed, and the iron stores they were born with will start running low. This is a good time to introduce them to pureed or soft foods. A varied diet is highly recommended, like pureed greens, fruit, or oatmeal. You can try to puree chickpeas, lentils, avocados, or leafy greens.
The sooner they are exposed to different tastes and textures, the better it is. Ensure they get a good amount of iron for brain and muscle development. The older they get, the more different types of iron-rich foods they are able to consume. Also from 6 months on, it is recommended that they start taking Vitamin D supplements.
12 to 18 months
At this stage, iron and Vitamin D are still quite essential. Ensure your child consumes at least one iron-rich food per day. When they consume iron-rich foods, ensure that they are also eating vegetables and Vitamin C rich foods so that the iron is absorbed properly. It is also good to continue the Vitamin D supplements. These support appropriate bone development, as Vitamin D is imperative for calcium and phosphorus absorption. Children between the ages of 1 to 3 years are recommended to consume at least 7 mcg of Vitamin D daily.
18 to 24 months
By now your growing toddler is eating a large variety of foods and is comfortable eating solids. You are of course ensuring that they have a well-rounded diet, but it is still a good idea to continue their Vitamin D supplements. Also, ensure their iron intake continues as before, along with Vitamin C rich foods to ensure absorption.
Remember, you may continue to breastfeed up to 3 years of age, or till mother and child are comfortable doing so. Complementary breastfeeding may continue even after the baby can eat solids.