Prior to Getting Pregnant
You should always be concerned about your diet, but especially when you are pregnant, as good nutrition is crucial to achieving the best physical and mental development for your baby. Nutrition also helps you build your strength for labor, birthing, and breastfeeding. Before you become pregnant, try to eat a balanced diet that will nourish your body. Most experts recommend a high-fiber, low-fat diet filled with protein.
When you are pregnant, your body is experiencing many chemical and hormonal shifts, which bring about emotional and physiological changes. Your body demands more energy and nutrients at this time, and you need to make sure that you have a balanced diet and the necessary vitamins, especially folate and vitamin B12.
Avoid throughout pregnancy:
Vitamins, minerals, herbs, and supplements – make sure you consult your doctor
- Folic acid
- Vitamin B12, B6
- Vitamin A – 50% of normal consumption
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
After Birth – if breastfeeding
Breastfeeding or infant formulas?
While no one can deny that breast milk is the perfect food for babies, some women are unable to breastfeed, and we completely understand and support that. If possible, however, breastfeeding your baby is ideal. Many women make the breastfeeding-versus-formula decision based on convenience, but keep in mind that even if you work, you can still breastfeed successfully. Whatever choice you make, be sure it’s the right choice for you and your baby. If you decide to breastfeed, please meet with a lactation consultant at least two months before giving birth to prepare properly. Adequate nutrition is essential to successful breastfeeding, and every person is different.
- Provides balance of nutrients
- Provides hormones that promote physiological development
- Improves cognitive development
- Enhances immunity against food allergies
- Contracts uterus
- Natural contraception – but not 100% guaranteed
- May protect against some forms of cancer
- Conserves iron
- Green – provides environmental effect
- Many varieties available to suit your child’s needs
- Unlike breastfeeding, parents can tell how much food is fed
- Family members can participate in feeding sessions
Whatever you decide to do, you should never feed your child cow’s milk before his first birthday.
Every baby is different. You should always consult your pediatrician if you have any questions about your baby’s diet. Because each stage of your baby’s development builds on the previous stage, you should always include foods from the past as you are adding new ones.
- 0-4 months – Breastfeed or formula. Keep in mind that some women have been known to breastfeed for a child’s first three to four years.
- 4-6 months – Add pureed vegetables and fruits, iron-fortified cereals
- 6-8 months – Add mashed fruits and veggies, baby food meats, unsweetened fruit juices
- 8-10 months – Add breads and regular cereals (avoid the sugary ones), yogurt, pieces of soft, cooked vegetables, raw but soft fruits, finely cut foods like meats, fish, cheese, eggs, and legumes
- 10-12 months – increase the food size from fine to course
Avoid – to prevent choking
- Raw carrots
- Hard candies
- Hot dog slices
- Peanut butter
- Raw celery
- Whole beans
Also, as a practical matter, I would recommend that you avoid feeding your baby sweets of all kinds. Sugar-laden foods have no nutritional value and promote obesity and tooth decay. Also, you have no idea what kinds of sugars were used and how they might affect your baby’s chemical balance.
Homemade baby foods
With many homes having food processors, it is easy to make homemade baby foods. There are countless recipes throughout the Web. If you have the time, I would recommend it because you will know exactly what you put into your baby’s food. However, there are many excellent, organic baby foods on the market.
Organic versus conventional foods
I always side with organic foods. To me, it’s common sense to want to minimize our children’s exposure to pesticides as much as we can. A recent study by Emory University researchers and others showed that when children were fed a conventional diet, their urine contained metabolic evidence of pesticide exposure, but that when they were switched to an organic diet, those signs of exposure disappeared. In spite of this – and likely because of tough economic times – the organic-versus-conventional debate rages on.
Introduce foods one at a time so that allergies or other sensitivities like gluten intolerance can be detected. Try a food for at least four days. If there is no adverse reaction, continue feeding this food to your child. If you witness a change in your child’s behavior or signs of an allergy, stop feeding this food immediately.