I’m a first-time mother and worrywart. My nine-month-old, who has just begun crawling, puts dirt and small objects into his mouth. I am worried this will lead to a stomach infection. I try to keep dangerous objects away from his reach and keep a close watch but it is not possible to monitor him every minute. Please advise.
— Shilpa Sugnani, Mumbai
It’s important for households with young children to make their homes child-safe. Keep the house clean and tidy by dusting and mopping it every day and ensure that all sharp and potentially dangerous objects are stored away in a cabinet out of the physical reach of children. It’s natural for toddlers to want to place objects in their mouths, and caring for them can be stressful for parents and caregivers. If your child puts anything in his mouth, you should be worried more about the risk of choking than stomach infections. A mild infection is common in infants and you needn’t fret. It will only improve and strengthen their immune system.
My five-month-old baby nibbles and even bites during breastfeeding. She has a healthy appetite and feeds regularly. The nibbles are uncomfortable but not painful. Is this normal?
— Worried mother, Chennai
It’s common and perfectly normal for infants to nibble during breastfeeding. Infants have limited ways of expressing themselves. If your baby nibbles and bites, it means she is full or not interested in the feed. Just stop the feed and try again in two hours.
I have been breastfeeding my baby for three months. But now I need to return to work and will be able to breastfeed only in the mornings and nights. What is the best thing to feed her while I am away?
— Malvika Arora, Delhi
For the first six months, infants should be exclusively breastfed. They don’t need to be fed solids or any alternate forms of milk. Their body needs breast milk, and it is worth making every effort to ensure that your child receives it. The immunity-building capacity of breast milk cannot be matched by any other milk or food.
My advice is that you express breast milk by hand or breast pump, which can be stored and fed to your baby while you are at work. There are many types of breast pumps available in the market.
(Dr. Keerthi Gnanaprabha is an embryologist at the University of Leeds, UK)