Learn to chew food: teach your baby
Eating is also learned, therefore, the sooner we inculcate in our children good eating habits, the better. The introduction of different types of food in the body of a baby should be, according to the advice of specialists, a gradual process. This leads us to talk about the so-called "window period". Do you know what it is and what considerations should be taken into account for this cycle?
It is a variable space of time that is also known as "period of acceptance of food". Some pediatricians place it between six and nine months of age, although many point out that these limits depend on the cultural factors of the place where we are and the particular organism of each one.
In this sense it must be said that, although some general guidelines can be established for the feeding of babies, the field of nutrition entails a lot of tradition. After all, not all the countries of the world have the same food availability and the consumption habits of one and the other are usually different.
The introduction of new foods in the 'window period'
In any case, the acceptance period is one in which the introduction of new foods or different textures is more appropriate. This is basically the case for two reasons: because the child's organism has acquired enough maturity to digest and process new foods, and because there is a need to add additional nutrients to its diet.
There is a tendency to think that if a certain food is not included in a child's menu in time, it can develop an intolerance in the long run. However, as José Manuel Moreno Villares, pediatrician and expert in Clinical Nutrition, maintains, there is no clear relationship between the moment of introducing a food and the risk of developing an allergy or intolerance.
Yes we can consider instead that the child's neurological development is stimulated at this time. The child changes his mechanism of swallowing, so that he no longer only sucks but learns to chew and stays seated with his neck upright. And, interestingly, it is not necessary that the first teeth have come out, since the child can make enough strength to grind the food using only the gums.
Start seating your baby at the family table
All these functions facilitate, from the neurological point of view, that the baby is incorporating other foods and textures to their diet. These advances usually occur within the window period, but it should be remembered that this is not a rigid period. Moreno Villares prefers to refer to this time as the best time to start sitting at the table with others and start taking food to his mouth autonomously. Some children do these things before and others a little later, but, as parents, we do not have to be impatient. There is always an important individual component in the development of the child.
Without leaving aside that premise, José Ignacio Pérez Candás, president of the Asturian Association of Pediatrics of Primary Care, points out some tips that we can follow not only during the acceptance period but throughout the development stage of the baby. First, it is recommended not introduce foods other than milk, always preferably maternal, before four months of age or delay them beyond seven, because at that age the baby begins to need a series of nutrients that can not be received only from the milk. The food you need then will always be given gradually and in small quantities.
It can be done try something new every week, for example. So we can see how your body assimilates everything. It does not matter if we introduce fruits and vegetables or meat and fish first. On exceptional occasions, in children who are not satisfied with milk alone, fruits and vegetables can be introduced after the fourth month. Also in the periods of acceleration of growth it is advisable to add something solid if the milk is not enough. But we must insist that these circumstances are exceptional. The normal thing is always to introduce the solids at six months. It is important to note that gluten products should not be given to the child before this time.
WHO recommends Mediterranean diet for your baby
As for cow's milk, Candás recommends that it should only be given after one year of age. However, already a little bit before, Around nine months, the child can and should take a varied diet. According to the World Health Organization, it should preferably be Mediterranean and white meats are always more beneficial. On the other hand, and as at any time of life, it is advisable to avoid excess fats.
To the guidelines of Candás add those of Moreno Villares, who states that the recommended daily caloric intake for a baby is between 80 and 100 kilocalories per kilo of weight.So, as a general rule, a child of eight kilos should consume between 600 and 800 kilocalories a day.
However, in practice, as Candás says, "every child is a world" and nutritional needs vary greatly from one case to another. Therefore, it is best to let the child self-regulate and not force him to eat more than he demands at any time.
In short, what we have to be clear is that there are no specific periods but wide margins, that food has to be introduced little by little and that, although there is no clear relationship between intolerances and the window period, there is a link unavoidable between this period and what relates to habits and behaviors. Therefore, if you do not learn to eat on time, it will cost more effort. And this is something that not only the little one has to understand. During pregnancy, the mother must also have a varied and balanced diet that takes into account the recommendations of the obstetrician and gynecologist who are monitoring their pregnancy.
The current trend in nutritional terms, as long as you drink enough fluids and limit the consumption of fatty foods, is quite flexible at any age. On the other hand, the general parameters can be changing and therefore the recommendations of the specialists must be present, who are always taking into account the advances of medicine and can offer us updated and personalized advice.
Elisa García Faya
Advice:José Ignacio Pérez Candás, president of the Asturian Association of Primary Care Pediatrics