Feeding Guide for babies older than 6 Months
My favourite first food suggestion is an overripe banana, the skin of which has black dots. Cut it into small pieces, and mash it up with a spoon or fork. Avoid the mixer. Let the baby sit in your lap and give her only a tiny bit after a breastfeed. More mothers give it with a spoon. Others like to offer it with their fingers and then shift to the spoon. This is perfectly all right as long as the hands are properly washed. More babies like bananas. Some prefer it if a little milk (preferably breast milk) is added to it. Many people oppose giving banana to a small baby, as it may give her a cold. I am not convinced about this belief, but each mother will know her baby best. It you feel that the child does become unwell whenever you give her a banana, you may stop it and try again after a month or two. Gradually, increase the amount of banana given at each feed to that accepted by the baby. Give her this once or twice a day.
1. You can try and interchange a banana with an apple or give apple once and banana at another time. Peel an apple and cut it into small bits. Boil and mash them with a spoon and fork. Other seasonal fruits like pears (boiled and mashed), papaya, mango and chikoo can also be given.
2. After the fruits, you can introduce rice preparations. If you are breastfeeding, you can add your milk to the rice. Alternatively, phirni made from rice powder and milk can be given. (You can use the milk normally consumed in the house).
You may be wrongly advised to give rice water, dal water and soup at this time, because these hardly give the child any nutrition. They may instead fill up her stomach and quench her thirst, and consequently may lead to less suckling at the breast with reduced milk production.
As the child starts getting accustomed to foods other than milk, continue with breast milk and fruits and add homemade soft foods like phirni, suji kheer, rava kheer, (semolina pudding) and porridge made form ragi (called nachni in Maharashtra) between two breastfeeds. Start with 1 or 2 teaspoons twice a day. Keep increasing the amount every third or fourth day to that accepted by the child.
Once you know that the child is tolerating these different food items, you can make a highly nutritious mix by roasting, grinding, and mixing equal parts of rice, wheat, ragi, and moong dal. The mixed powder can be stored in an airtight container. This readymade powder can be used for making thin pudding/kheer with milk and sugar or a thin porridge with ghee and sugar (or salt).
In general, I am against readymade cereals for babies. They are quite hygienically prepared and convenient to use, but whole foods made at home are more nutritious and, of course, less expensive. Even if one can afford to buy readymade cereals, they should be avoided, if possible, because they are processed and so are less nutritious. You may be told that they are fortified with iron. This iron is poorly absorbed and may not be of much benefit to the child. Moreover, the smooth consistency of these commercial preparations may make the child get so used to them that she may not like to accept any food offered later on.
Mashed and cooked vegetables with cooking oil or ghee can also be given. Dark green, leafy vegetables, carrots, pumpkin, potatoes, beans, peas, dudhi or ghia, marrow and beet can be tried. Begin with one or two teaspoons and increase progressively. As vegetables are not fully digested by the baby, small bits may be passed along with the stool. This is normal. Also a child having beet may have red-coloured stools or urine.
Beet and carrots should not be stored. They should be served fresh because storage increases the amount of nitrates in these vegetables. These nitrates can cause anaemia in small children. Raw vegetables can be added after the child is a year old.
When the child is around nine months, the food need not be mashed too fine. She can be given food cooked for the family like chapatti or paratha dipped in dal; rice, dosa, idli, curd rice, upma, pongal, missi roti, etc. Milk preparations, like curds, buttermilk and paneer (cottage cheese) can also be tried. These preparations are more easily digested than artificial milk. Also, allergy to this food is less common than with artificial milk.
Points to Remember:
Children who do not eat enough at a time should be offered food or fruits every 2 to 3 hours.To reduce the bulk, oil or ghee should be added to the food. Some families are unnecessarily wary of ghee or oil, but they do not realize that even breast milk has fat in it. Children do need fat. However, a taste for fried foods should not be inculcated from an early age.We should also remember that staple foods (rice, wheat, maize, etc.) though required, are all starchy. Starchy foods are bulky, starchy foods are bulky. As the child’s stomach is small, she fails to eat enough of the bulky, starchy stuff to get all the calories she needs. Adding fats like oil or ghee, proteins rich foods like pulses, beans, milk and milk products, meat and sweetening agents such as jaggery or sugar can solve this problem.
Another good way of reducing the bulk and increasing the energy density of food is by adding Amylase-Rich-Food (ARF). To make ARF, take about 100 gms of any locally available cereal or grains (wheat, ragi or bajra) is steeped overnight in 2 to 3 times its volume of water is drained, and the moist, swollen seeds are germinated in a moist, dark environment for 24 to 48 hours till they sprout. The grains are the sun-dried for 5 to 8 hours and lightly toasted on a flat skillet to remove any surface moisture. The sprouts are removed by hand abrasion and the grains are milled or powdered. This flour (ARF) is stored in an airtight bottle or plastic container. The small amount of (ARF) is stored in an airtight bottle or plastic container. The small amount of ARF, for a cost of 20 to 40 paise, will suffice to give a child nutritious meal for one month. It needs to be made only once a month.
Addition of vegetables and fruits provides the required minerals and vitamins.
Water can be given to the child once she starts taking foods other than breast milk and fruits. It should be offered from an ordinary glass. Children learn to sip from a glass quite easily
A child should be given her food an hour or two before the family eats. Let her then also join the family to participate and be given some food that is not too spicy or too rich in fat, sugar and salt.
Source: Book - Guide to Child Care by Dr R K Anand
To consult Dr R K Anand in person, click here
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