In the first year of life, babies will hit many milestones: their first smile, their first coo, their first wave, and maybe even those first steps, but just as important as all these monumental moments is what is on their plate. It sets the stage for healthy eating habits that they can keep for life.
“If you decide to nurse, be forewarned that the first few weeks are the hardest. It was by far the most exhausting thing I ever personally went through,” says Chanda M. Bradshaw, MD, a pediatric hospitalist and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics. “Even as a pediatrician myself, I was surprised that my babies wanted to nurse so much, really every two to three hours.”
What to Eat When You Are Breastfeeding
“There’s no breastfeeding diet per se,” says Gladys Vallespir Ellet, MA, RN, nurse coordinator of lactation services at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone. “It’s important not to restrict calories since your body needs an extra 500 calories. You want to make sure that you follow the same balanced diet as you did during pregnancy,” she stresses. This should include low-fat dairy products, protein, leafy greens, and cereals and whole grains.
Starting Solid Foods
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your baby be able to sit in a high chair to begin solid foods. For most infants, that’s between four and six months. “If you offer them a spoonful of rice cereal and it dribbles out of their mouth, they’re not ready yet,” says Dr. Bradshaw. “Wait a week or two; then try again.”
“Once your baby reaches six months of age, you can begin to introduce more allergenic foods such as eggs, dairy, soy, peanuts, and fish,” says Anna H. Nowak-Wegrzyn, MD, PhD, director of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Allergy Program and director of the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology. “We know now that if we introduce foods like peanuts early enough, we can significantly lower the risk of children developing that allergy by about 80 percent,” she explains.
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