Baby’s Food Introduction
It is very important to introduce foods to babies after six months. There are different types of weaning supplementary foods that are introduced to an infant after six months. We are going to learn about 3 types of supplementary foods.
1. Liquid Supplements Milk:
At about the sixth month of life the frequency of breastfeeding is reduced to 3 or 4 times per day and animal milk is substituted. Since the proportion of nutrients in animal milk differs from that of human milk, the cow’s, milk is diluted with boiled and cooled water in the 2:1 proportion for first feeds. The amount of water is gradually reduced so that in the course of a few weeks the baby receives undiluted animal milk. Two feeds, with 225 ml of milk per feed is an ideal replacement. Sugar can be added for taste and to increase calories.
Fresh Fruits Juice: Fruits like oranges, sweet lime, grapes and tomatoes serve to supplement the protective nutrients which are not present in sufficient amounts in breast milk as well as in animal milk. It is advantageous to start feeding small quantities of fresh fruit juices even in 3rd or 4th month of infant’s life.
In the early stages, the fruit juices are diluted with equal amounts of boiled water and only a couple of teaspoonfuls are fed. The amount of fruit juice fed is gradually increased and at the same time the dilution with water is cut down. In a week’s time baby receives 85 ml orange juice or about 170 ml fresh tomato juice. Since tomato juice doesn’t contain the same proportion of nutrients as orange juice, double quantity is required.
Green Leafy Vegetables Soup: In case fresh fruits are not available, you can use green leafy vegetables as alternative. Strained soup can be given in the beginning with unstrained soup later on.
2. Solid Supplements Mashed
Mashed food is started around the 7th or 8th month of life. Around this time, the infant is already receiving animal milk, fruit juices and vegetable soups.
Cereal and Starchy Gruels: To meet increasing demands of infant’s calories and proteins, we cooked mashed cereals mixed with milk and sugar can be given. Calorie dense cereals can be prepared using malted wheat, ragi etc.
Vegetables: Cooked, mashed vegetables like potatoes, green leafy vegetables and carrots can be introduced to get vitamins, minerals and colourful appearance in the diet.
Fruits: All fruits except banana, which is mashed should be stewed and sieved for one year old baby. Lateron, it is given simply stewed, with the addition of a little sugar and lime juice for flavour.
Non-Vegetarian Foods: A small amount of hard boiled egg yolk is given to start with and if the infant tolerates, the amount may be gradually increased to complete yolk of an egg. Yolk is a good source of vitamin A, iron and protein.
Soft custard is also a suitable way in which to introduce egg yolk. Egg white is not given until the infant is 8 to 10 months old because it has a frequency of allergic manifestations. The whole egg may be poached or soft boiled and fed by the time the baby reaches the age of one year.
Cooked and minced meat or boiled fish may be fed after suitably flavouring with salt, 3 to 4 times a week.
Pulses: Well cooked pulses along with cereals in the form of khichdi or pongal can be given. You can also feed porridges to the infants. Pulse and meat preparations can be given alternative days.
3. Solid Supplements Unmashed
When the baby stats cutting their teeth, it is time to start chopped and lumpy foods. Cooked cereals, pulses and vegetables can be given to the child. Solids like idly, idiyappam, bread, chapathi, rice and dal can be given after the child gets used to semi-solids.
Vegetables or fruits are chopped into small pieces and boiled. Cooked potato can be given. After a year, leafy vegetables can be given well boiled and soft. A slice of raw carrot or fruit segments with all skin and seeds removed is a good exercise for the gums. As the child grows, it’s better to fruit segments instead of juice. Fruit provides bulk in the diet and is good for bowel movements.
4. Processed Foods
Homemade or commercial processed foods can be given as weaning foods. Homemade processed weaning foods can be prepared by using cereals, pulses, nuts and jaggery with and without milk products. Processed foods like pasta, rusks and biscuits can also be given. Commercially available weaning foods are predigested but are expensive like vegetable soups, fruit desserts, puddings, fruits and vegetable juices can be given.
Addition of a small amount of vegetable oil to the porridge makes it less glutinous increasing energy density. Ideal weaning foods are more energy dense than milk.