Complementary feeding is the new term for ‘introducing solids’ and defines the transition from an all-milk diet to a diet of family foods. With the important role that complementary feeding plays in both nutrition and development, learning the ‘how to’ of complementary feeding is an underestimated parenting tool.
Research has shown that the first 1000 days of life, from conception to two years of age, forms a critical window period for manipulating nutrient intake beyond this age. With childhood obesity on the rise comes an increase in research that suggests this form of malnutrition can be prevented early on with appropriate complementary feeding practices and behaviour. Creating a healthy relationship with food and the acceptance of healthy eating behaviour is likely to ensure continued positive behaviour in this area, promoting both childhood and adulthood health.
We also know that iron is important for cognitive development, with the effects of deficiency manifesting as poor concentration and difficulty learning when starting school. Together with with the prevention of obesity, the prevention of iron deficiency is a key goal when it comes to complementary feeding.
This guide on complementary feeding outlines the nutritional and behavioural focus of complementary feeding and explores the value of both baby led weaning and traditional spoon feeding of soft foods.
Serving Potential on a Plate was born in my heart many years ago and I am so amazed by the journey that this seemingly simple idea has taken. I hope you will find it useful … may it bring you great success when introducing solids to your precious little ones.
A sample read:
“A child’s growth and development is directly related to their learning potential and their health in adulthood. It is important to note that good growth is so much more than an increase in weight and height. Everything inside the body, including the brain, is growing as well and therefore needs to be nourished. Sufficient energy and nutrient provision is vital for growth, learning and play! In addition, stimulation and loving care play a role in a child’s development. Meal time practices and creativity can contribute to the meeting of these needs. Therefore the opportunity a child has to reach his or her full potential lies in the hands of those responsible for his or her nutritional intake.”
“The word complementary is defined as “combining in such a way as to enhance or emphasize the qualities of each other or another”. Complementary foods are any foods or liquids given to an infant in addition to breast milk or a breastmilk substitute. Complementary feeding can therefore be described as a transition period during which and infant progresses from an all milk diet to adapt to a diet of family foods.
The complementary feeding transition is a very important window of opportunity to manipulate long term health with optimal nutrition as the risk for malnutrition is high. Malnutrition includes both under and over nutrition as both negatively impact the long term health of an infant. Optimal growth and obesity can mask nutrient deficiencies resulting from a diet of inadequate diversity. Rapid growth and obesity in infancy increases the risk for obesity and the associated risk for cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Care needs to be taken to prevent stunting in growth, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies.”
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