From birth, a child's nutritional needs are of the utmost priority. At Surfside Pediatrics in Ventura, California, the doctors and nurse practitioners have the skills and experience to help parents make good choices for their children's nutrition. Here are a few of the common questions our medical professionals hear from parents and caregivers about the best way to keep children well-fed and nourished.
Why is breastfeeding so important?
Breastfeeding an infant for at least six months is suggested by a variety of credible health organizations; its benefits make it the best way to nourish infants. It contains important nutrients that babies can easily digest and helps to boost immunity against a number of infections and allergies. However, some women are unable to breastfeed for medical reasons, their anatomical makeup, or their lifestyle. In these cases, infant formula is available; it contains similar nutrients as breast milk, although the antibodies can only be passed to a baby from the mother. Talk to your Ventura pediatrician to help determine the best choice for your child's nutritional needs.
When can my child start solid foods?
Breast milk or formula can satisfy a child's nutritional needs for the first four to six months of life, but they will need a gradual introduction to solid foods after this time. Babies usually give their caregivers several cues to show their readiness for this stage - the muscles in their head and neck have developed, they can sit upright with support, and they begin to show interest in others' food at mealtime. The medical professionals at Surfside Pediatrics recommend starting with just a few tablespoons of rice cereal at a time. This can be followed by pureed fruits and vegetables at approximately six to eight months of age. These foods should be introduced one at a time over a period of few days in order to determine any allergic reactions. Honey should never be fed to a child until after their first birthday; an infant's digestive system is unable to process the spores honey may contain.
Should I allow my child to snack?
After the age of 1 year, your Ventura pediatrician suggests enhancing your child's nutrition by offering a variety of foods to snack on from each of the food groups - grains, meats, fruits/vegetables and dairy. Since toddlers often do not eat much at one sitting, young children may need to eat the regular three meals a day with two or three snack times scheduled in between. This helps establish a pattern of good eating behavior, while allowing your child to have some control by choosing from healthy snacks such as fruit, cheese or whole grain cereals. Both snacks and meals should always be low in fat and sugar to curb poor habits later in life.
Periodic checkups with your child's Ventura pediatrician will keep track of their nutrition as they grow. Make an appointment with Surfside Pediatrics today to learn more about how to keep your child healthy.