Parenting is an unending journey of learning and some of the mistakes we make as parents is because of lack of access to the right information or too much information from unreliable persons – we’re surrounded by teachers of all kinds, and every person has a say when it comes to feeding your child and they all want you to try their ideas which can be confusing.
Overwhelming amounts of advice and information can at times be hard to navigate especially when it comes to food.
This article points out common mistakes on baby feeding and solutions to them. Good baby feeding is a good foundation for future health and nutrition status
- Adding milk to porridge
This is a common wrong way of preparing porridge in effort to add taste. Other thinks that milk will add value to the porridge which is not true. Milk will actually hinder the absorption of essential nutrients such as proteins, vitamins and minerals from the porridge.
Just cook your porridge as per the instructions but avoid adding milk.
- Adding sugar to milk
To satisfy a sweet tooth does not mean you must add sugar, there are many ways of sweetening the porridge like blending a banana, berries and any other sweet fruit and mixing it with the porridge.
The porridge can also be enriched by adding a blended boiled egg to it. Always opt for natural way of adding flavour, taste and limit too much added sugars.
- Introducing cow’s milk before one year
Before one year a child’s digestive system is not able to digest casein protein unlike breastmilk which has whey protein which is highly digestible and absorbable.
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Early introduction of cow’s milk or any other milk can lead to constipation. The casein present in cow’s milk is hard to digest which can colonise a child’s digestive system.
It is also associated with nutritional anaemia in children since it low in iron, vitamin c compared to breastmilk. Introducing other sources of milk at one year is recommended because at this time a baby is able to compensate for lost/missed nutrients with a well-rounded diet comprising of all food groups.
- Using hard cereal porridge flour
It is common among some cultures baby’s porridge flour is mixed with other “things” such as yams, cassava, ground nuts. In their view, the additives are meant to fortify the flour making it more nutritious. Well, all these additives have different cooking time and we normally cook our porridge for just 15 minutes. 15 minutes is not enough time for cassava, ground nuts to cook properly and this leads to indigestion and it is harmful to your baby.
- Using more than three porridge flour cereals
As a parent I know you want to prepare a “heavy” porridge and this is the main reason why many opt for more than three cereals.
It is recommended to use single porridge flour or not to mix more than two cereals so that it is possible to identify the allergen in cases of an allergic reaction. For instance you can use maize flour and sorghum
- Late introduction of animal protein
It is common to find a child eating ugali and meat soup but not meat itself. This is due to demonization of lean meat. Little intake of lean meat will do no harm to your child.
Animal proteins, such as meat, eggs, and milk, are complete proteins, meaning they provide all of the essential amino acids our body needs. Animal products provide the highest-quality protein sources.
Animal protein such as lean red meat helps in the production of hemoglobin by red b***d cells. Timely introduction can help reduce and prevent occurrence of nutritional anemia among children aged 1-5 years.
- Making feeding time a wrestling session
Your child already knows when the food is served, it is time to wrestle. This aggravates food refusal more and more.
Make feeding time more friendly by feeding together and also sometimes going by your child’s order. Yes, sometimes you will have to take the food in that corner or even run after them and this makes it fun for them. Don’t expect a one year old to sit with you in the dining table.
- Monotonous feeding
Feeding one type of food is common. This can be boring to your baby because they want to explore different foods. Monotonous feeding is the major cause for food refusal.
Practise food diversification by giving different sources of carbohydrates, proteins and variety of fruits and vegetables. A different food from the same group offers different nutrients.
Having a meal plan for your baby will create room for diversification and variety.
- Preparing tasteless foods
Prepare appealing food for your child and avoid boiling and mixing everything together. Boil what need to be boiled and fry and need to be fried.
Add little healthy cooking oil like olive oil or canola and pinch of salt to add taste and flavour.
The writer, Lucy Chege is a registered and licensed nutritionist based in Kenya, proficient in medical nutrition therapy. She is also the founder of Nutrition Therapy by Lucy.