Complementary Breastfeeding in the Age of 6 Months OldSunday, 11 March 2018
In the first six months of life, breast milk alone is adequate to cover all babies’ nutritional need. When they reach 6 months old, baby must be introduced to food as complementary to breastfeeding in accordance to WHO recommendation. This is because with age comes more movements and need for nutrients for the baby’s development where breast milk alone can no longer meet baby’s nutritional need. Also at this age, baby’s digestive system is formed completely. The digestive enzyme is also ready to digest food.
Besides age, other things that should be noticed when introducing complementary food to baby is giving food with adequate quantity, frequency, texture, and also variations. In the beginning, baby can be introduced to milk porridge, strained steamed rice, and other soft food.
Why start at 6 months?
When previously all nutritional need can be met by exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, after that baby will need additional nutrition to optimize their growth and development. Entering the 6th month, the need for iron and zinc have to be met by consuming complementary food. Moreover, there is some other important factors which is the reason to give complementary breastfeeding in age 6 month:
- Baby’s digestive tract and kidney have developed to accept a more complex food
- Body starts to produce amylase enzyme to digest more complex carbohydrate
- Neuron and muscle coordination is developed enough, so that baby can hold their head up and eat through a spoon.
- Overweight in baby, which in the long term can increase the risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease when they grow up. It is because baby received too much calories than what is needed for their age.
- Increased aspiration risk, which is the entry of food to the respiration tract caused by underdeveloped nerve and muscle of tongue, mouth and related organs.
- Increasing baby’s kidney workload.
- Certain food is believed to be an antigen to baby’s underdeveloped digestive tract.
If baby doesn’t seem to be voraciously eating complimentary food, doesn’t mean that they don’t like it. Maybe they just need more time to adapt with this new phase. It might also help to start with the organic range that is less complex in flavour. Patience and persistence is needed in introducing food to complement breastfeeding, so baby can have optimal nutrition.