Beyond Breast Milk: How to Create a Nutrition Plan for Your Baby

From breast milk to solid foods, creating a nutrition plan for babies goes a long way. Learn how to create a meal plan for your baby.

A mother carrying her baby in a front carrier while trying to choose groceries at a store

Making plans is one of the things we humans continuously do in our lives. For parents, the plans they make are not just theirs but also their children’s. This starts with deciding to feed your baby breast milk. 

When a child is about to enter school age, their parents will start creating plans for every educational stage until adulthood. But planning for your children doesn’t begin with choosing the ideal kindergarten. It starts way before that; it starts on the day your children are born. 

When a baby comes into the world, they will feed on breast milk. But what happens after that? This is why parents need to prepare a good nutrition plan for their babies, especially in the first year.

Read more as we talk about how to plan your baby’s nutrition, from breast milk to solid foods. 

Starting Motherhood: Confinement  

Before planning for a baby, let’s start with taking care of their mother first. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that, during childbirth, a woman loses a lot of blood and her qi. As a result, her body would turn “cold”. New mothers must rest and engage in a healthy diet for one whole month to restore their qi. This period is referred to as “confinement“. 

A healthy diet for new mothers requires them to drink plenty of warm water and avoid foods with a cooling effect, which can affect their spleen and stomach. Examples of these foods include bananas, crabs, oysters, and bamboo shoots. 

TCM also recommends consuming herbs and plant-based medications, which are safe for both mothers and babies. Rice tea is especially good for nourishing the spleen and stomach, restoring the qi, and increasing breast milk secretion. 

Other options are Eight Treasures Soup (Ba Zhen)Shi Quan soup, and mutton soup with Angelica Roots. 

Baby Feeding Guide for New Mothers 

Check out this easy baby feeding chart divided by age, as taken from BabyCenter.com. 

Birth to 6 Months: Breast Milk

A mother breastfeeds her baby while sitting on her bed
The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding to ensure your child’s health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) highly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months to ensure child health and survival. Likewise, TCM also encourages new mothers to breastfeed, as babies need the nutrients contained in breast milk. 

6 to 8 Months: Breast Milk + Complimentary Foods 

It’s time to slowly introduce your baby to solid foods, in addition to breast milk. Start with 1 to 2 teaspoons, then 1 to 2 tablespoons of: 

  1. Pureed vegetables, fruits, and meat
  2. Oatmeal or barley cereal, mixed with breast milk
  3. Unsweetened yoghurt 

Once your baby adapts to solid foods, you can try introducing them to other types of solid foods to complement breast milk. These include: 

  1. Strained fruits and vegetables
  2. Mashed meat
  3. Pureed tofu
  4. Pureed or mashed legumes
  5. Pureed or soft pasteurised cheese, cottage cheese, or unsweetened yoghurt 

Remember to feed your baby with small amounts of new foods before slowly increasing the amount. Furthermore, always make sure to give babies only pasteurised dairy products such as cheese or milk. Otherwise, they would get diarrhoea or something more serious. 

8 to 12 Months: Breast Milk + Ready for Solid Foods

A mother feeding her baby in the kitchen with a variety of fruits on a table
You can introduce solid foods in moderation to your baby at around 6-8 months old.

Besides breast milk, protein (meat, tofu, legumes and cheese) and grains (oatmeal, barley cereal), babies at this age are ready for a wider variety of foods with different textures: 

  1. Soft-cooked vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces.
  2. Fruits mashed or cut into soft cubes.
  3. Finger foods 

There are some things to keep in mind. The first is not to add salt, essence, preservatives or excess sugar to maintain the natural flavour of the foods. Second, when giving your baby eggs – part of finger foods – look out for signs of an allergic reaction. For instance, diarrhoea, rashes, vomiting, stomach aches and swelling around the mouth are common signs of an egg allergy.

Alternatively, anaphylaxis, cough, difficulty breathing, and asthma-like wheezing are severe symptoms of the same allergy. If your baby presents with any of these indications, stop giving them eggs or foods containing eggs immediately. Third, fat intake is essential to support your baby’s growth. Specifically, dietary fat should consist of at least half of their daily calories.

Once your baby turns two or three, fat intake can be decreased to 25%-35% of daily calorie consumption. It’s almost important for preventing mild diarrhoea and dry, inflamed skin. Last but not least, as previously discussed, breast milk is of paramount importance, and you should continue breastfeeding until 2 years of age or beyond. 

This is an adaptation of an article, “ Beyond Breastmilk”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.

References

  1. World Health Organization. 2021. Infant and young child feeding. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
  2. BabyCenter. 2021. Age-by-age guide to feeding your baby. [Accessed 1 September 2021] 
  3. Royal United Hospitals Bath. Egg Allergy in Children. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
  4. Healthychildren.org. Feeding & Nutrition Tips: Your 1-Year-Old. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
  5. SFGATE. 2018. How Many Grams of Fat Per Day Should Children Have? [Accessed 1 September 2021]
  6. Pan American Health Organization. Breastfeeding and complementary feeding. [Accessed 1 September 2021] 

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