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Child Care

My child is under weight. What fattening foods can I give him/her?

First discuss with your paediatrician whether the child is actually underweight or it is a parental misperception. Give calorie rich foods at more frequent intervals as recommended by the paediatrician.

My child hates milk and its quite a task to get him to drink it. What kind of foods can supplement for lack of milk intake ?

Milk is an important source of protein for the growing child.Milk products can also be given instead of plain milk or innovative presentations of milk like milkshakes or custard can also be used. A nutritionally replete supplement may be used temporarily to tide over these rebellious phases till the child accepts it. Calcium supplementation is necessary if the child’s intake of milk is less.

When can we start the rice / dal diet for kids? My mother says it should be after the first year annaprashanam. Is that true? Or can we begin earlier ?

Rice and dal in a mashed / pured form can be started from the 6th month onwards. Some communities have the practise of “Annaprashanam” or introduction of rice.Other cereals can be given before rice is introduced in these babies.

What solid foods can I start introducing, and is there an order that I should follow ?

It is better to use home cooked food rather than processed foods for the baby.Mashed fruits and pressure cooked vegetables along with porridge (made from creals like rice, wheat, oats etc) canbe introduced first. A new food must be tried for al least 3 days before going on to the next one.

My child has been exclusively breast fed for six months. He/she refuses to touch formula milk now. Also, he/she is refusing to touch solid foods like mashed apples etc. What do I do ? My milk supply is also dwindling ?

It’s important to start weaning and supplementary foods from the 5th to 6th month. Postponement of weaning leads to refusal of solid feeds by the baby. The baby should be offered different types of fruits, cereals, and vegetables periodically till they take to them. A baby can accept a food after rejecting it even after the 10th time!!!

My child doesn’t get up much or cries during night. Is that a good sign ? On the other hand, I keep an alarm every two hours to feed him ?

A new mother will vouch that nothing can be more earth shattering than a hungry baby. If the baby’s hungry, he or she will automatically get up and cry for a feed.Usually babies don’t have a fixed routine in the initial stages, but start sleeping through for 5-6 hours from the 2nd month onwards.

Any tips on blanket usage for a newborn ?

Loose sheets must be tucked properly and tightly in the baby’s bed or cradle as they make cause choking or asphyxiation if they inadvertently are pushed around and cover the baby’s face. Blankets must be used over cotton clothing, and similarly tucked in well.Babies slep better if they are kept cozy.

What kind of clothes should I put on my child. Is pure cotton the best option in the initial days? Should he/ she be fully covered (head to toe) at night to prevent mosquito bite ?

Cotton clothes can be used in a tropical climate like Chennai, but, warmer clothing should be used in colder places. Woolen clothes should not be directly used on the babies. Mosquito bites are best prevented by using fully covered clothing and mosquito nets.

We have just come back from the hospital with the baby. What temperate should the air conditioner be on at during night?

The airconditioner should be kept at a temperature of about 24-26 degrees centigrade. The baby should be wrapped sufficiently to make sure that the baby does not develop any infection because of hypothermia. Too many clothes may alsomake the baby seem like it has fever.

Can I have some tips on bathing the baby in the initial days ?

The baby can be kept in a bath tub and bathed using moderately hot water. Care should be taken to see that the water does not enter the nose and ears. Sometimes a warm bath in the evening can be given additionally to so the colicky babies.

I am tired of eating the same diet again and again during feeding. Is it alright if I have outside food like pizza once in a while during feeding. Is it safe ? What precautions must I take if I were to eat hotel food during lactation ?

It’s ok to eat any hotel food as long as it agrees with the mother and is hot and cooked. Uncooked food like juices and chutneys may have contaminated water and may cause an intestinal infection for the mother.

Should the diet of a feeding mother be full of garlic and cumin (jeera) and dairy as some grand mothers advocate ? (because these products are supposed to have strong milk inducing abilities)

Garlic is a galactogogue (milk producing), along with a host of certain other substances, but should be consumed in moderation.

What’s the ideal diet for a lactating mother? Should she be on a strict diet regimen as advocated in certain communities ?

There’s no need for the mother to be on any restricted diet. A balanced diet with sufficient fruits, vegetables, milk and curds should be consumed by the lactating mother.

But I heard that babies put on formula early on tend to get weight more than those on mother’s milk…

Formula milk has a different composition as compared to breast milk, and should be only used if the mother’s short of milk. It’s thicker and has a higher fat content leading to increased weight gain. This is not necessarily healthy for the baby and the pros and cons while using a formula should be discussed in detail with the Padeiatrician.

Why is breast milk so important and how long should babies be exclusively breast fed ?

Breast milk is the “best milk” for the baby, and contains all the nutrients the baby requires in appropriate amounts. So it is of utmost importance that the mother is sufficiently motivated to start breast feeding from within the first hour of birth. It is good to exclusively breast feed till 5-6 months and continue to breastfeed along with other food supplements till 2 years of age.

When Can I put my child in Play School?

Though playschools now take children even as young as an year old, it is ideally suited for the child, once he is at least 2 years old. Of course the child gets to interact with other children and gets to enjoy the various activities being offered. The downside is the occurrence of frequent infections especially in A/c Play schools. A single sick child can actually infect most of the children in the class room. So ponder over everything before you put your child in.

Can I massage my baby?

Baby massaging is basically gentle, rhythmic stroking of the baby’s body with your hands using some oil. All the joints, wrists, ankles, fingers etc., are also gently manipulated. Massage improves the body’s circulation, makes the baby relaxed, cry less and sleep better. It can be done just before a bath. It has been found that regular massage (skin to skin contact) helps in stimulating the baby’s brain development.

How many hours of sleep does my baby require?

Your new born baby may be sleeping initially between 18 to 20 hours, which may decrease to 12 hours at about 3 years of age. Each baby’s metabolism is different and if your baby is healthy, feeding well and gaining sufficient weight, the sleep he or she is getting is adequate.

What should I be doing to stimulate my baby to grow well ?

There are innumerable books, websites and tools available which are recommended for the baby’s growth and development. 80% of your child’s brain grows by 2 years of age. What matters to babies, a1000 years ago still matters today. You the parent are your baby’s best learning tool. Talking to your baby, playing with them, observing what interests him or her and fostering those interests, is what helps your baby’s brain grow and develop. Please keep electronic screens TVs, Computers, i-pads and Mobile Phones to a minimum. Reading along with your baby is also very interactive and stimulates their curiosity.

What dental care should I follow for my child ?

The first tooth may appear anytime between 6 months to 1.5 years. It is ok to start brushing the teeth with a finger brush initially and then graduate to a tooth brush with soft bristles, when more teeth have come. Use drinking water for brushing as children cannot spit out till 4 years of age. Use a low fluoride containing toothpaste when they are young and a normal tooth paste after they are 3 years old.

My baby seems to like chocolates. Is it ok to give 1 every day?

Sugar substances like candies and chocolates etc., are best to be avoided till the age of 1 year. Chocolate contains small amount of caffeine and when it combines with the sugar, it forms a potent cocktail which your baby may get addicted to. Also the sugar will get deposited in the teeth and may become the precursor to caries.

When Can I introduce other foods to my baby ?

The baby should be on exclusive breast milk up to 5 to 6 months of age. If the breast milk is insufficient, then it must be supplemented with formula feeds.Semi solid, Mashed food can be introduced from 6’th month. Mashed fruits, Pressure cooked vegetables and home cooked cereals like ragi, rice etc, can be started initially. It is better to avoid processed foods.

My baby poops only once in 3 days. I am very worried, is there a problem ?

It is quite alright if breast fed babies pass motion even once a week. Alternatively they can also pass stools 1 to 15 times a day. Both these variations are normal.

Is my baby gaining weight ?

If your baby drinks at an interval of 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours approximately (demand feed), sleeps for an hour between feeds, and passes urine about 10 times per day, it means that the weight gain must be adequate. When you visit your doctor, she can ascertain by comparing previous weight measurements, if the weight gain is adequate.

Can I give a bottle also simultaneously ?

If the baby who is being breastfed is offered the bottle also, the baby develops a “nipple confusion” and finds it easier to suck from the bottle and will stop breast feeding completely. Feeding bottles are the common cause of diarrhoea, colic and so must be avoided.

When do I start feeding my child. Till when should I breast feed ?

The new born baby should be started on direct breast feeds within the first hour of birth. No sugar water or any other kind of feed should be given. It is good to breast feed the baby till 1.5 years to 2 years of age.

Disclaimer : *The doctor’s advice is of generic nature only. For specific diagnosis and treatment, kindly contact your paediatrician.

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