Feeding Babies: Here’s How You Can Feed Smart Right From Start         

Feeding Babies: Here’s How You Can Feed Smart Right From Start         

20 Sep 2022 | 8 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 608 Articles

Right from the time a baby is born, mothers are flooded with advice on what to do, what to feed their babies, how to feed them and the list goes on. Hence, mums who focus on feeding babies right from the start can ensure that their child accepts almost all sorts of food growing up.

For the first six months, a baby is exclusively breastfed as a mother’s milk contains almost everything that the little one requires. Community Expert Dr Pooja Marathe says, “Parents who plan to introduce solids before four months of age can increase the risk of choking and cause their infant to drink less than the needed amount of breast milk.”

Here are some tasty and healthy food choices that you can try even if a good portion of them ends up on your child’s bib, the tray or even the floor. Use baby wipes for that messy affair and feed your baby without worrying.

Feeding Smart Right From Start: Infants From 6 to 8 months

Feeding babies between six to eight months old can be fun and an exciting milestone. It can also be messy but fun if you are aware of exactly what to give them. Think of all the different tastes and textures that await to be tasted by your little one. This could include juicy fruits or even some creamy avocado.

Community Expert Dr Pooja Marathe says, “Your baby will take only small amounts of solid foods at first. Start feeding your baby solids once a day gradually building to two or three times a day. At eight to nine months give your baby solids as part of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

She adds, “As the child grows, parents should increase the number of times that the child is fed which is about two to three meals per day for infants who are about six to eight months of age.”

Here are some points to consider when parents aim at feeding babies 

  • After your infant turns six months old, you can introduce liquids, semisolids and solids.
  • This is the time when you will be introducing actual food. It is advisable to start with one type of food at a time to see its tolerance levels.
  • You can normally start with boiled and cooled sips of water and single grain cereals like dal water, thin rice water, thin wheat porridge or ragi porridge.
  • Avoid adding any salt or sugar initially as it’s best if your baby learns to like the food without the added seasonings. 
  • Your baby might have only two to three spoons at a time and it is normal. Once your baby is used to consuming runny cereal, thicken it by using more cereal and less water.
  • You can also start introducing thin clear soups or fruit pulp.
  • A few recipes include fresh lime juice, coconut water, strained mixed vegetable soup, thin khichdi, or even porridge.

Dr Pooja Marathe adds, “After the age of six months, breastfeeding alone is no longer enough for optimal growth and development of the child. Hence, it is necessary to start complementary feeding along with breast milk.”

Feeding Smart Right From Start: Infants From 9 to 12 Months

According to Dr Pooja Marathe, “From 9 months give your baby breast milk or formula first, then solids after the milk. Go very slow on introducing the food. Watch each step and how it helps.”

Here are some important points to consider when feeding babies between nine to twelve months old.

  • Incorporate finger foods like fresh curd, mashed banana, stewed apple, mashed potato, mashed papaya, sweet potato or butternut squash.
  • As soon as your baby can, transition them away from smooth purees.
  • Also let your baby explore simple, soft finger foods like boiled peas or beans, tofu or paneer, hard-boiled egg, quinoa, or shredded cheese
  • Remember to keep breastfeeding or using infant formula until the age of 12 months!
feeding your baby and feeding babies
When it comes to feeding your baby, ensure that you introduce different types of solids or food textures one at a time / Image credit – Canva

Feeding Smart Right From Start: Toddlers

Community Expert Dr Pooja Marathe says, “Cow’s milk should not be given as a drink until 12 months of age. Introducing solids too late can increase the risk of your child developing allergies. Children who get solid food too early might be at a greater risk for developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, eczema and celiac disease.”

So as your infant transitions to being a toddler, it is the perfect time to take those taste buds to the next level.

Here are some important points to consider- 

  • Toddlers can eat almost all the foods from the basic food groups which include pulses, fruits, veggies, dairy, meat, cereals, nuts and oils unless they are allergic to certain foods.
  • Your toddler is now learning to eat more solid foods and is also more active now.
  • They can start having mashed chapati or even soft chapati with green vegetables, rice and dal.
  • Your toddler’s day-to-day and meal-to-meal appetite can change which is completely normal.  Try to make the food simple, plain and recognisable for him/her. The more colour in the food more is the more attraction.
  • All kinds of baby puffs, small cut fruits, baby rice crackers, cookies or biscuits dipped in milk, noodles, rice and dal, soft cooked pasta, soft idlis and dosa, thin soft parathas, kheer and also whatever the child wishes to taste.
  • You may add a little amount of salt, sugar or spice wherever needed.
  • Avoid slippery foods like candies and cough drops or foods that might choke your child. This could include popcorn, hard nuts, large-sized chips, raw carrots, raisins and seeds.
  • Cut the food into small pieces and serve it using attractive cutlery as your child might want to eat by themselves.
feeding your baby
When your aim as a parent is feeding smart right from start, ensure you make your little one’s meals as colourful as you can / Image credit – Canva         

Feeding Smart Right From Start: Kindergartener

Dr Pooja Marathe says, “About three to four meals per day for infants who are between nine to twenty-three months of age should be given along with one to two additional snacks as required. Parents can use fortified complementary foods or vitamin-mineral supplements as needed and gradually increase food consistency and variety.”

Remember that kindergarteners between the age of three and five can eat a variety of foods.

  • Nutrition during preschool years is an opportunity for parents to teach kids about healthy food options.
  • It’s time to offer the child food from the family pot!
  • Let your child decide how much to eat or restrict the amount of food you allow them to eat. Some days they might eat more, while on some days they might eat less too!
  • Generally, a pre-schooler should be eating between 1200 and 1600 calories per day.
  • The best way to help kids eat on their own is to help them make their meals. For instance, this can be a simple sandwich or baking a cake under your supervision.
  • Set regular meal and snack times.

Feeding Smart Right From Start: Elder Ones

Healthy food for school-age children includes fresh foods from almost all food groups. Here are some things to consider-

  • As your toddler grows, remember that they have time constraints as they get busy with school, homework, classes and other extracurricular activities. Their appetite might increase due to an increase in playtime or even exam stress.
  • Some healthy foods that include milk, curd, tofu, paneer, green leafy veggies, mixed nuts or energy bars and plenty of water are a must for them.
  • Feed traditional homemade chikkis, laddus, smoothies and milkshakes to meet their growing energy demands.
  • Children this age might be tempted to have junk like chips, fries, desserts and sweets.
  • Make sure you limit processed foods to once in ten days. If the importance of healthy eating is clear in your child’s mind, this problem will not occur.

Remember, not everything on your kids’ plate has to be a superfood. If you are determined in feeding smart right from start, do not force-feed them. Let your child explore, taste and smell their food. Once they are old enough, encourage a zero food wastage policy. Following the tips above mentioned can encourage your kids to eat right and maintain a healthy weight. 

Cover image credit – Pexels
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