From a baby’s first moments, there are many important factors that are important in the proper growth and development of the baby and part of this is related to the diet, feeding habits and environmental factors. We have provided some points taken from
(Summary of Advice by national Health and medical Research councils summary national Health and medical Research council 2012)
The world Health organization states that ‘breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants’. Exclusive breastfeeding ensures that the infant receives the full nutritional and other advantages of breast milk, including developmental benefits and protection against infection and some chronic diseases.
* In Australia, it is recommended that infants are exclusively breastfed until around 6 months of age when solid foods are introduced
* If an infant is not breastfed or is partially breastfed, commercial infant formulas should be used as an alternative to breast milk until 12 months of age.
* Avoid leaving an infant unattended with a bottle containing liquids
* A cup can be introduced at around 6 months, to teach infants the skill of sipping drinks from a cup.
* To further stimulate the baby’s sucking process which has been shown to have a positive influence on the proper development of the lower jaw, a smaller/ flat type of bottle teat is advised. Furthermore a one small hole is favourable to allow the baby to really stimulate the sucking process.
* To enable your child to breathe properly which has also been shown to positively impact on the proper development of your baby’s airways and upper jaw, it is important that the baby’s nose is free from obstruction and the baby placed at a slight incline to assist in this
* At around the age of 6 months, infants are physiologically and developmentally ready for new foods, textures and modes of feeding and need more nutrients than can be provided by breast milk or formula. Delaying the introduction of solid foods beyond this age may increase the risk of developing allergic syndromes.
* By 12 months of age, a variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups is recommended, as described in the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
* Exclusively breastfed infants do not require additional fluids up to 6 months of age.
* For formula-fed infants, cooled boiled tap water may be used if additional fluids are needed.
* Cow’s milk is associated with iron deficiency in infants under 12 months but pasteurised full cream cow’s milk is an excellent source of nutrients in a mixed diet in the second year of life.
* Fruit juice is not necessary or recommended for infants under 12 months of age.
* Sweetened drinks are associated with dental caries.
* Tea, herbal teas and other drinks are of no known benefit to an infant and could possibly be harmful
Once your baby can sit up without support, he or she may be ready to drink from a cup.
* Try giving your baby small sips of boiled water, breast milk, formula, or fruit juice (100 percent juice, without added sugar).
* Once your baby has learned to drink from a cup, you can start to wean him or her from the bottle. Encouraging your baby to give up the bottle by his or her first birthday will help prevent tooth decay and ensure that your baby is getting enough nutrients from solid foods.
Despite it not being an ideal thing, a short term use of a pacifier may be used to help soothe an irritable baby undergoing teething.
* Once teeth start to erupt it is advisable to remove the pacifier completely as prolonged use will affect the position of the teeth and impact on the proper development of the dental arches and jaws leading to crowding of teeth later in life
The American Dental Association (2003) reported that pacifier use in 3- to 5-year-old children led to anterior open bite, posterior crossbite, mean overjet, and smaller intercanine distance of the upper arch. Studies have also shown a possible link with the prolonged use of a pacifier and speech problems. To help wean your child of the pacifier you may try the following tips:
* Keeping the pacifier out of sight. As the saying goes, “out of sight out of mind.”
* Be consistent. It may be challenging at first, but don’t give up. If you give in
on one occasion, the child learns that he/she will get what he/she wants just by
pushing hard enough.
* Designating certain times of the day for the pacifier. For example, you may
allow the pacifier at naps or at bedtime.
* Slowly reducing the amount of time allowed for pacifier use. Your child
doesn’t have to go “cold turkey.” Rather, many children will respond more positively to a gradual change.
* Finding other ways the child can comfort himself/herself versus resorting to the pacifier. A favorite toy can work as a good substitute.
* do not dip pacifiers or bottle teats in sugar, jam, honey or other sugary substance.
* do not put anything in an infant’s mouth if it has been in someone else’s mouth to avoid spreading bacteria that cause tooth decay.
A recent Swedish study made international headlines when the results suggested transmitting oral bacteria in saliva from parent to child is safe for your child. The study suggested this helped the allergy suppression of the child long term. However there is down side to this as this might mean painful tooth decay for your child down the road.
The bacteria that is linked to causing dental cavities (Strep. Mutans), is primarily transmitted to children from parents. That innocent bite from the same spoon or sharing of a cup may just have increased the chance of dental decay in your child.
Cavities are nearly 100% preventable, and when you avoid sharing drinks and food, you are helping to eradicate childhood tooth decay!