How do I understand my baby digestive system during the first year of his birth?
The first year of your baby’s life is very important. It plays a vital role in laying the foundation for your baby’s development. They grow quickly at this age and hence require a lot of energy.
While it is always advised to breastfeed your baby, nowadays formula milk is almost at par with the nutrients present in breast milk. Whether to breastfeed or formula feed is a mother’s choice. But it’s important that your baby gets the right amount of nutrients.
Your baby’s digestive tract takes time to develop. Till your baby attains 6 months of his age it is recommended to only breastfeed. After 6 months you can start with the intake of solid food along with milk. It takes time for your baby’s digestive system to develop to digest solid food properly.
You can help your baby by taking care of his digestive system in the following ways:
Take breaks while feeding: Taking breaks while feeding your baby helps to release the gas or air that builds up in your baby’s stomach causing discomfort and irritability. Take breaks in between and burp your baby to feed them properly as the gas present also results in the feeling of fullness.
If you are breastfeeding, then the best time to burp your baby is while switching breasts. If bottle-feeding, then take a break after every 2-3 ounces of milk consumed. It’s necessary to burp your baby after feeding or before they sleep to rid them of their uneasiness.
Regular Intervals: Give your baby 2-3 hours before feeding them again as it takes time for them to digest it. You can develop a routine but be flexible with it. Feed your baby on his cues, look for signs of hunger and fussiness rather than force-feeding them. But make sure to feed them every 3 hours.
Initially, the number of feedings will be more but the amount will be less. Gradually as your baby grows older the frequency of feedings lessen and the amount increases.
Give your baby regular massages. It helps with their motor development as well as releases any gas present in their body. Lay them on their back and push their legs and arms to release the air trapped in. Another way is to lay them down on their abdomen to apply slight pressure to relieve them from their discomfort.
You can use fennel oil while massaging them in battling digestion-related issues. It also helps in soothing their pain and bringing them relief brought due to digestive issues
Position: Minor changes like changing the position of your baby while feeding your baby can also make a great change. It helps in preventing spit-ups, vomiting and mainly acid reflux. Making them sit in an upright position helps in keeping acid reflux at bay.
Introduce solids at 6 months of age: It is a must that you start your baby’s intake of solid food items only when he attains 6 months of age and not before that. Look out for clues that your baby is ready for solid food.
• Sitting up straight with head support
• Leaning forward when food is given with a spoon
Neither too early nor too late: Don’t start with solid food too early. Your baby’s digestive tract takes time to develop to consume and digest solid food items properly. It might lead to loose bowel movements due to indigestion.
Don’t start with solid food too late. As your baby grows, they require a lot of energy and starting late with solid food items may lead to poor growth and also cause iron deficiency.
Don’t ignore breast milk or formula milk. It has to be given along with solid food.
Solid food: Start off with something easy and not anything complicated. You can start by giving your baby cereal as it is fortified with iron, hence makes an ideal first food. Introduce a new food item after a few days, as it might be overwhelming for your baby. You can also observe if he is allergic to it or not.
You can continue by giving them mashed vegetables and fruits and other finger foods. Banana is one of the best foods to help them with their digestion. Make them sit upright while feeding them.
If you are breastfeeding make sure that you maintain a balanced diet as well. Your diet affects your baby too. Avoid the intake of alcohol or tobacco while breastfeeding. And observe any abnormalities in your baby in case you changed your diet. Drink lots and lots of water.
Your baby’s gut is still at a developing stage and ensuring it’s proper development is your responsibility. Just follow the motto of “eat right and feed right”. It goes without saying that if there are any issues; don’t hesitate in calling your paediatrician.