Feeding Your Premature Baby - Part 2
Solids and Allergies
Many mothers of premature babies are left guessing whether they should follow their babies actual age or the age that they would be if they were born full term when it comes to reaching milestones. Deciding when to start your baby on solids is no different.
There is a small window of opportunity for this and the best thing that a mother can do is to realise when this window is open and to then watch your baby for developmental and ‘food ready’ cues.
For a preemie, this window usually opens between 16 weeks actual age and 16 weeks from your estimated due date - too early and your baby will have an increased risk of allergies and anaemia because her gut is not yet ready.
The window will then close at around 7 months actual age - too late and your baby will reject anything too textural in her mouth as well as run a risk of anaemia because of insufficient iron stores
Developmental cues to look out for in terms of food readiness
- Can your baby hold his or her head up well, sit up
- Does he lean towards food when it is offered and opens his mouth
- He appears to be able to eat from a spoon
- He doesn’t immediately push food out of his mouth although for some preterm babies this may not be a useful indicator especially if other cues indicate the baby is ready.
Due to the fact that premature babies’ have immature digestive tracts at birth, parents often wonder whether their preemie is at higher risk of food allergies. A recent large-scale study of infants born in Manitoba, Alberta, Canada in 2008 found that babies who were born prematurely or with low birth weight were not more likely to develop food allergies when compared with infants born full term and with normal birth weight. This is consistent with older studies about premature babies and food allergies.
Read Feeding Your Premature Baby - Part 1
Recipes that compliment this discussion:
Mango & Banana Smoothie
Salmon Surprise Puree