Dos and Don’ts While Giving Supplementing Food for a 4-Month Old Baby

Dos and Donts While Giving Supplementing Food for a 4 Month Old Baby

The first and most appropriate food giving to newborns in their early months is breast milk, which may be given together with other formula milk. However, as the child grows, it is important that other forms of food, which are more energy-dense and contain a wider range of nutrients, be added to their diet. The most common issues encountered while introducing supplementary foods seem to be:

  • What is the appropriate age to start giving a baby supplementary food?
  • What supplementary foods are to be given to a 4-month old baby?
  • What supplementary foods are not to be given to a 4-month old baby?
  • How do I add supplementary foods?
  • What mistakes are to be prevented while giving a 4-month old baby supplementary foods?

Proper knowledge is a prerequisite for providing babies adequate care, therefore, the solutions to these issues are of extreme importance.

What Is the Appropriate Age to Start Giving a Baby Supplementary Food?

Despite the general advice of several health institutions which state “supplementary foods are to be given to babies that are up to 6 months”, growth in babies varies. Some babies can be given supplementary foods as early as 4-months when certain physiological signs are displayed consistently. The signs include:

  • The child sits upright without any support
  • The child does not push out solids with his tongue and has lost the tongue-thrust reflex
  • The child is willing to chew. This is seen as the child puts everything he holds in his mouth.
  • The child picks up objects with the thumb and forefinger (pincer  grasp)
  • The child tries to put food in his mouth by himself.
  • The child can straighten his neck voluntarily.

What Supplementary Foods Are to be Given to a 4-Month Old Baby?

Not all adult foods can be given to a 4-month old, although they would eventually eat them when they grow older. There are certain foods to be given at the beginning of supplementary feeding which include:

  • Iron-fortified rice noodles, rice porridge, and red meat puree. Due to its fine texture, rice noodles are very easy to digest and they hardly cause allergies. The red meat puree is very rich in iron and aids the child’s development. When selecting the meat, go for lean pork meat as it hardly causes allergies in babies. Rice porridge can be eaten alongside other supplementary foods.
  • Animal protein. This includes egg yolk, chicken liver, and other forms of meat protein food. They are very rich in iron. Grind and mix it with the child’s puree while feeding.
  • Vegetable and fruit puree. The vegetable purees that can be given include that of potato, pumpkin, yam, sweet potato, broccoli, and other vegetables that do not have oxalic acid. Vegetable purees are encouraged because they help in bowel movements, laxatives, and they contain carotene which helps in the development of mucosa and epithelial tissues. The fruit purees that can be given include that of apple, banana, pear, and other non-hairy fruits.
  • Millet porridge. Millet porridge contains many vitamins and minerals such as carotene, vitamin B1, B2, etc. while making the millet porridge, make sure that it is not too thin.

What Supplementary Foods Are Not to Be Given to a 4-Month Baby?

In the light of giving supplementary foods to 4-month old babies, do not allow your quest for “more” nutrients to bring harm to your child. Some foods should never be given as supplementary foods until the child grows to a certain stage. These forbidden foods include:

  • Staple foods. Refrain from giving your infant staple foods, especially a child as young as 4-months old. The reason being that the vitamin B in cereals has been destroyed. Also, staple foods are deficient in chromium, which can affect the visual development of the child (loss of chromium is a major cause of short-sightedness).
  • Non-meat protein foods. This includes egg whites and fish. It is very important to keep these foods away from 4-month old babies; especially at the beginning of introducing supplementary foods.
  • Shelled seafood. Most children and adults show allergies to shelled seafood, therefore it is very inappropriate to feed them to babies that are not up to a year old. This is because, if the child shows allergies this early, it would be a bit difficult to control.
  • Vegetables. Vegetables should not be introduced during the early stage of supplementary feeding. This is because, some vegetables like spinach, leeks, amaranth, and others, have a lot of oxalic acids. Some other vegetables like bamboo shoots and burdock are difficult to digest and might lead to complications in the child’s digestive system. These vegetables in this category are not to be used for vegetable purees.
  • Beans. Beans, if not cooked properly, might cause toxic reactions and allergies. Never forget that the chance of the baby getting damaged or contracting diseases is very high at this stage as beans consist of factors that can lead to goiter.
  • Fruits. Although fruits contain major vitamins, it is not to be given to babies. This is because fruits like mangoes, pineapples, and hairy fruits are very prone to allergies. These mentioned fruits are not to be used for purees.
  • Beverages. Never try to give the baby beverages like mineral water, purified water, functional drinks, and stimulating drinks.
  • Seasoning. For the sake of the weak kidneys of the baby and the reduced ability to absorb nutrients, do not put seasonings in the child’s supplementary food. Let it also be known that children that are not up to a year old, do not eat salt. Some seasonings like MSG affect the utilization of zinc in the body.
  • Snacks. On a very strict note, do not give babies snacks as supplementary food, most especially snacks with additives and pigments. This is because snacks provide very low nutrition and contain high sugar. Snacks can defect the child’s ability to taste and might cause tooth decay in babies.

How Do I Add Supplementary Foods to The Main Food?

Although supplementary foods are rich in nutrients, breast milk and other formula milk must still be given. Breast milk should be the major food while the child is trying to get used to the supplementary food. At the first stage of supplementary feeding, the supplementary foods are to be added strategically. It is most advised to use this pattern:

  • Feed the child 600ml of breast milk or milk formula per day.
  • Give breast milk 4-6 times per day
  • Give supplementary food one time per day

At the very beginning, the supplementary foods to be given are iron-fortified baby rice noodles, red meat puree, vegetable puree, and fruit puree. Do not give homemade rice noodles as they are not iron-fortified. At this beginning, the puree should be very thin, but as the child gets used to it, you can make it thicker and even introduce supplementary foods that have small soft bumps.

Start by giving the child supplementary foods once a day. Gradually, he would become used to it and then you can increase it to two or three times a day.

To build the child’s complementary food structure, you can test with other ingredients strategically. The aim of this is to discover the child’s allergies to certain ingredients. Always be sure that the ingredient you are giving does not include any odd feature that might harm the child.  

What Mistakes to Avoid While Giving a 4-Month Old Baby Supplementary Foods?

The development of the stomach and intestines in a four-month-old baby is at its beginning stage and any form mistakes are the very least things that are to occur as they would lead to serious complications. There are various mistakes made by mothers or guardians while introducing supplementary foods.

However, there is one very grave mistake most mothers make and it is very common. While introducing supplementary foods to a 4-month old child, some parents include vegetable and fruit juice. This is very wrong because the foods eaten by the child at this stage do not provide cellulose and some other nutrients.

Also, fruit juice will make the child reject drinking water. Fruit and vegetable juice can also cause increased blood sugar and dental caries. Therefore, if the mother or guardian wants to introduce the child to fruits and vegetables, it should be in form of a puree.

In Conclusion

The transition from breast milk to adult food in children is a very vital stage and should be done with enough patience. Mothers and guardians are advised to go as slow as possible to prevent unnecessary complications in the child. If the child has any form of disease or allergy, whether mild or life-threatening, treatment should be given first, then supplementary foods that are given should be picked under the guidance of a pediatrician. If the child does not have any allergy or disease as of now, the other should be very vigilant to notice if any is developed during this transition. With the development of the child in view, these guidelines should be followed with all righteousness and consistency.

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