Thursday, 26 January 2012

Infant feeding - Basics

Doctors recommend that babies be exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life. Weaning usually commences between 4 to 6 months of age. If the baby's milk consumption is not sufficient,an they start waking up more often at night than usual for feeding, then doctors may recommend introducing porridge for one meal, in addition to the normal number of nursing sessions. Even after starting solid feeding for the baby, breast milk continues to be an important part of the baby's diet for the first year of life.

The first food introduced has to be very thin with absolutely no lumps in it. Ragi or rice porridge are excellent ways to start. You could also mix a little breast milk in the porridge when you first introduce it, so the baby is more likely to take it. Then gradually you could start reducing the amount of breast milk mixed into the porridge. 
The porridge should be lukewarm and not hot to the touch. 

Gradually the texture of the porridge can get thicker and lumpier. By six months of age, mashed dal and rice, mashed or pureed fruits or vegetables can be given. At this age the baby should be eating solid food 3 times a day. 

By 7-8 months of age, introduce finely chopped foods, like slices of banana etc. Gradually the child will learn to chew. You could also introduce chapathi soaked in dal/milk at this stage.

Between 9-12 months of age, you could give her the entire spectrum of food varieties, cheese, yoghurt, bread, chapatti, rice, cereals, peas, beans, fruits and vegetables.
So by the child's first birthday, the child would have tried and got a taste of all food types.

A few important things to keep in mind:
  • There is no necessity to add salt or sugar to baby's food.
  • The goal should be to have the baby trained feed from the family pot by his/her first birthday.
  • Avoid giving fish, cow's milk, eggs, nuts, honey, salt and sugar in the first year of the baby's life. 
  • Chicken (well cooked and shredded) can be introduced from 7 months on.
  • Hygiene is of utmost importance, when handling baby food. Always wash your hands with soap before handling food. Wash all feeding bowls, pestle etc thoroughly and if necessary sterilize them. 
  • Give freshly prepared food the children. Do not feed them leftovers more than a day old.
  • It could take even upto 20-30 tries for a child to start liking any new type of food introduced. So be patient. If the child refuses to eat, then just clear it away without comment and try again a couple of days later.
  • Introduce new food one at at time for two consecutive days to ensure that the baby does not develop any allergic reactions.
  • Fruit juice should be diluted with one part of water. Giving her mashed fruits is preferable to juice.
Please check with your child's pediatrician before starting her on solids. Always consult and take his opinion before coming up with the schedule or menu for the baby. Just as a guidance, I am sharing my daughter's feeding schedule:

We started her on solids by 5 1/2 months.

Solids only once a day: 11AM -12PM  Any one of the following:
  1. Rice + Dal (blended) and thinned down
  2. Ragi porridge
  3. Oats porridge
  4. Mashed (boiled) apple
  5. Mashed banana/mango/musk melon/papaya
I gave each one of these items on two consecutive days to see if she develops any allergic reaction. She did not like potatoes and green peas. So I did not force her. I gave vegetables too. And I gave her her fruits instead of fruit juice as much as possible. But fruit juice is just additional on top of all this. And it is only to be given diluted with one part of water. Plain juice with the fruit sugars, apparently, kills their appetite for milk. 

Once I tried all the above items, I proceeded to give her solids twice a day. This continued for 2 weeks:
11AM – 12PM – Rice/Ragi/Oats
3PM – 5PM – One of the fruits/vegetables

We started giving her solids 3 times a day, from 7 months on:
9AM-10AM – Ragi/Oats
1PM-2PM – Rice-Dal/Curd-Rice with whatever vegetable we prepare at home, cooked and mashed well.
5PM – One of the fruit varieties.

She used to eat 2-3 tablespoonfuls of each of her meals. 
I have never given her formula milk. I have never given her cerelac or any of those store bought baby food. As much as possible, as the doctor suggests it is best to get them used to what we eat, since it saves a lot of trouble cooking two different things. There is a lot of overhead involved with baby solid feeding. You need to wash the cooking and serving utensils thoroughly before and after preparation, wash their bibs and clothes immediately so as to remove the food particles and stains well, otherwise it does not go. Added to that if you have to cook separately for them, it gets very difficult. Not just that, they will not get adjusted to our preparation smoothly otherwise.

For the porridge:
Grind Quacker oats into a fine powder. Make oats porridge with 1tsp of powder just the usual way. This will make 2tbsp of the porridge. You can optionally add your milk to the porridge once it has cooled down.

Refer to the recipe here.

priya's signature image at photobucket 


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