As a Nutritionist, I often come across new moms worrrying whether their babies are getting enough to eat?
What is most important to remember is that your baby’s first introduction with various types of foods is more about the “experiment” and less about the food. The bulk of your child’s nutritional needs for the first year are still going to be met by breast milk .Here are few tips that will reduce your worry and help you in feeding your lo better:
Right Time: While some moms do start feeding ‘top’ foods by 4 months, medically it is found that your baby’s stomach is still weak to take in foods other than breast milk at this stage. Delaying introduction of ‘top’ foods is also not recommended as they need added nutrients after 6 months of age.
Thus, starting on solids at the age of 5- 6 months is optimum. This journey is also broken up month wise below so your lil one progresses from purees to whole foods in this period.
Baby weight : The second most important thing – do not worry about their weight (unless there’s a weight reduction)!Each baby is unique. Some are fast gainers. Some are slow gainers. As babies slow down their growth, they’ll be less hungry on average (although 60% of their intake is feeding their brains rather than the rest of their developing bodies). Appetite also varies from day to day. Some days, babies will be ravenous all-consuming beasts. Other days, there’s not a mashed banana in the world that’ll interest them.
Expose them to as many as different foods as possible: The first couple of years of a child’s life can establish life-long taste preferences and their metabolic environment.Introduce them to a variety of whole foods,fresh fruits and veggies avoiding the packaged food as far as possible.
Schedule meals: Have regular meals and snacks scheduled, rather than letting kids graze all day. Only offer water in between meals.
Do not force feed: Babies are best at knowing how much food to eat, and show satisfaction or fullness by turning away, shaking their head “no” or showing general disinterest. Encouraging your baby to eat more may undermine his natural ability to self-regulate his eating and may even teach him to overeat. Buy baby sized bowls and containers to judge if she has eaten enough.
Include baby at family meal time: Separating your baby from the family meal experience may seem efficient, but your baby learns by watching others eat. She learns about food variety and texture, and experiences eating as a family. Include baby at mealtime as soon and as much as possible.
Don’t distract: Avoid distracting your baby with phones, tv, books or toys while she’s eating from the very beginning. Let her experience food uninterrupted.
How to introduce various foods: Baby’s first solid foods can be served cold, slightly warm or at room temperature.
Step 1: Cereals
Cereals are often introduced in form of porridges. Don’t restrict to rice or suji. Introduce millets and other grains as well. Not only they will provide more variety but also host of essential nutrients. Ragi porridge, makhana porridge, daliya porridge, jawar porridge, barley porridge can be introduced.Use your own breast milk for preparing the porridges. Don’t sweeten the taste by adding things like mashed bananas, applesauce or sugar — first, because it’s best to introduce only one food at a time, and second, because it’s better for baby to acquire a taste for plain before you sweeten it up.
Step 2: Vegetables
Vegetables are full of nutrients and not as sweet as fruits. Start with easily digestible milder white, yellow or orange options such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots before moving on to the green team, like capsicum, broccoli which have slightly stronger flavours and comparatively difficult to digest.
Step 3: Fruit
Introduce fruit after vegetables. You can try things like mashed banana, mango or papaya as such or with breast milk or cooked and puréed fruit (such as pears, peaches, or apples). For something completely different, start with smoothed-down mashed or pureed ripe avocado — it’s creamy, yummy and loaded with healthy fats.
Step 4: Higher-protein foods like pulses, beans, legumes ,chicken, meat
Once baby has already adapted well with cereals, vegetables and fruits, start with mashed dals, beans ,chicken soup or mashed chicken breast. Soak the pulses and beans before cooking to make them easily digestible. Preferably use organic chicken for babies.
A month wise guide for food introduction
|6 – 7 months||Dal paani
|7 – 8 months||Ragi porridge
French bean puree
Sweet potato puree
Papaya – banana puree
9 – 10 months
Carrot khichdi/tomato khichdi/lauki khichdi/palak khichdi/pumpkin khichdi
Besan Chilla/Ragi Dosa
Carrot sticks/Apple or cucumber slices
Rice with Sambar/Dal/Rasam
11 – 12 months
Introduce everything that is prepared at home. Stop cooking separately.
My favourite recipes to get you started
Barley and Sweet Potato Balls
Apple & Avocado Mash
Banana Spinach Pancakes
Baked Pumpkin Sticks
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place the pumpkin on a wire rack or pan and drizzle with oil. Bake for 40 minutes with 20 minutes for each side till they become golden brown. Season it as per your choice.
Heat ghee in a pan and add makhana to it. Roast them on low flame for 5-7 minutes until they become crisp . Take care not to burn them by stirring.
Remove the roasted makhana and allow them to cool down and then grind in a grinder.
Meanwhile to the same pan add milk and heat. Add jaggery ,almond powder and cardamom powder to it and cook until the milk reduces and thickens.
Add powdered makhana to the reduced sweetened milk. Stir well and cook the kheer for another 2-3 minutes.