Weaning foods for your baby
Infancy is a stage of rapid growth and development. During the initial few months following birth, mother's milk alone provides all the essential nutrients to the infant. However, after 4 months of age, the infant may require additional foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies. For this reason, the little one is gradually introduced to weaning foods.
"Weaning" is a process by which the infant is tapered off breast milk with the introduction of new foods and drinks instead. By the end of the weaning process (usually by 1 year of age) the child is completely independent of breast milk. Sitting up, showing an interest in other foods, or getting hungry before its normal feeding time, is an indication that the child is ready for weaning.
It is always advisable to introduce foods slowly and one at a time. Give the infant time to become accustomed to a particular food before trying to feed it another. Also, there should be a gradual transition from liquids to semisolids to solids, and strong flavors should be eliminated. When the infant is 6 months old, bottle feed along with few liquid feeds should be introduced.
Cow's milk should be diluted with boiled water in the ratio of 2:1 for the first feed. The amount of water may slowly be decreased so that the baby gets used to cow's milk and also gets more nutrients. Ideally, one feed of 200 ml milk, twice a day, can be given. Sugar can be added to increase the calories. A very soft, thin porridge, using any cereal flour (start with your staple cereal) can also be given. Once the infant gets used to it, the consistency can be thickened. Other liquid feeds like strained fruit juices, dhal or rice water, etc. may also be given.
Children between 8 and 12 months of age can be given mashed food. Soft cooked vegetables such as potatoes and carrots should be introduced along with mashed soft fruits like bananas and apples. To meet the nutritional requirements, cooked and mashed cereals in sweetened milk and can be fed. However, at this stage, it is important to be careful as the child feeds because there is always a risk of choking involved.
As the baby nears one year, a well cooked combination of mashed cereals and pulses such as thin khichdi or dhal-rice can be given. If non-vegetarian, initially introduce small amounts of the yolk of a hardboiled egg or soft custard. Later, the child can be fed the whole egg yolk. After a year, the child is usually able to eat a normal diet. In other words, the consistency no longer needs to be changed and the infant can be encouraged to eat by itself.
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