Being a mother is both a privilege and a responsibility. You are a mother the moment you conceive; it’s like an instant bond that you and your unborn child share and it lasts for a lifetime.
While loving, nurturing and caring for your baby is one aspect, nutrition becomes one of the key focus areas for an infant’s growing up years.
There’s no need to stress how breast milk is by far one of the most important antidote for your infant. Nature and human body both will always astound you as to how it works to help protect and nurture ourselves and the ones we love and the breast milk is one such wonder drug produced by the body for your beloved new-born.
Breast milk has got the perfect amalgamation of nutrients such as proteins, vitamins and fat that can be easily digested by your infant’s tender tiny tummy. Not only that, what makes breast milk so important is that it helps boost your baby’s immunity to fight against infections owing to the rich dose of antibodies present in it.
While you continue nursing your baby, as the months progress you have to gradually start introducing solids to see what foods suit your baby. As Sarita Pandey, co-founder of Boho Traveller recalls, “My son was sort of prone to constipation. So I would introduce only one food item per 4 -5 days so that I knew how his digestive system was handling it. Later when I introduced rotis to his meals, I realised that no matter how much these packed atta companies boast of their flour, it can just not compete with the flour that we get from mill because when I went for the latter, my son came down with heavy constipation which happens when a lot of roughage has been consumed without enough water consumption after the meal.”
Like in most traditions, we Bengalis have a ceremony called Annaprasan or the ‘rice ceremony’ when the baby is introduced to her first grain of rice. This officially marks the introduction of solid foods into the baby’s diet.
It has to be a gradual shift – since my baby girl already started teething when she was two months old, she had five tiny teeth by the time she was 6 months old, soon after her Annaprasan, (apart from breastfeeding) I decided to start her with some a new diet such as mashed banana blended with milk formula made into a porridge-like consistency, stewed apples, blended light moong daal khichdi or moong daal water as a part of her alternate diet complimenting breastfeeding.
Mostly owing to the consistency and a whole new flavour, a baby is bound to spit out and refuse the new food. It can get tedious for days when you see the baby refusing to take in even a small morsel of it, but keep at it. There could be several reasons why a baby may refuse solids – either it’s full or it would be the whole new flavour and an effort to ‘chew’ or ‘swallow’ a new food item as compared to the mother’s milk that she’s so habituated to.
One of the best ways to go about the same is while you’ve ensured she’s been well fed at her normal meal times with breast milk, start out with a small portion of new solids like a mashed banana for her mid-morning or an evening snack. Slowly and gradually as it becomes a part of a routine, will the little one start enjoying her new snack as she’ll know that right after this will I get to go out for a stroll in the park or a time for a belly rub and a bath time.
Dr. Nita Jagad MD (Paediatrics) DCH Paediatrician suggests the following to new mothers who wish to shift their babies from breastfeeding to starting on solids as a part of the weaning process but only after 6 months. Breastfeeding should be continued as and when the baby demands in spite of feeding solids. Some of the suggested weaning foods are –
- Rice moong daal paste
- Mashed banana
- Mashed fruits
- Mashed potato or sweet potato
- Boiled vegetables
- Rava porridge
- Naachni satva/ Idli/ Upma/ Sheera
- Soups and fresh fruit juices
- Mashed rice, dal or khichdi
She further adds, “However, do continue exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age and then only attempt to start weaning as the baby may not swallow the thick paste until then.”
Here are some tips that Dr. Nita shares that new parents should keep in mind while introducing solids to your little one:
- Select one item, give it four times a day at least for a week then only introduce another item so that the baby gets used to one taste.
- Slowly introduce new items and not introduce too many food items at the same time.
- The consistency of the food should be like a paste and smooth to start with – make sure the food is not too thick or watery.
- Use a feeding chair or a place where the baby can be placed in a slight head high position.
- Use a small spoon to feed. While feeding keep talking, singing and interacting with the baby to make meal times enjoyable.
- If your baby does not like the food, do not try to force or make the baby cry. Try and reintroduce the food again after a few days.
- Do not put the food in the front part of the tongue as the baby can spit it out due to reflex action. But try and put the food either over the mid-portion of the tongue or hold the spoon in the baby’s mouth and allow the baby to swallow it.
- Don’t forget to check the temperature and the flavour of the food before giving it to the baby.
- Avoid using spices at 6 months, you can use salt and jaggery for added flavour and taste.
- Once the baby gets used to the consistency of the food, by 8-9 months you can introduce slightly coarse consistency foods.
- By 10-11 months you can introduce slightly bigger portions of the food.
- By the first year your baby will be able to eat a regular family meal but a little-softened dal and vegetables to begin with.
- Spices in the food can be slowly introduced after the first year.
- After the first year, let the baby hold the spoon or make small pieces of chapatti and let him eat on his own, but supervise to prevent choking.
- Most important – let the child decide on the quantity he’s going to eat, never force-feed a child.
- Do not give milk and biscuits as the first feed – give home made nutritious food. Let the child get habituated eating healthy food, remember a child copies its parents so set a good example.
- Biscuits contain maida and sugar – which is totally non-nutritious.
- As far as possible always give your baby freshly made home cooked food. the commercially available ones can be used during traveling or during emergencies.
The best 1st weaning food recipe is:
- 2 parts rice + 1 part yellow moong dal
- Wash, sundry and roast
- Fine grind it and sieve it.
- Store the fine powder in an air-tight container and refrigerate it.
- Use one spoon powder – roast in ghee until it browns, add water, jiggery, salt to taste.
- Stir well on slow flame until semi-solid consistency.
- Cool it and give it to the baby four times a day – but make it fresh every time
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An exclusive feature for World of Mom, from the house of FirstCry.com.