Experience of being a mother is nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. Memories of motherhood are something you’ll cherish forever. As a new mom, you will have lots of do’s and don’ts about the physical and mental development of your new-born. The first and foremost thoughts, is your baby getting enough food required for the growth?
Your baby’s first food is Mother’s milk and which remains till the first six months. After completing the first milestone of six months, breast milk alone is not sufficient. Thus, it is a time to introduce solid food to your baby and start weaning off the breast milk. Although the growth parameter differs for every child, there are certain signs to look for to know that your child needs to be introduced to solid food:
•When your baby can sit upright with support.
•When your baby has good head control for a long period.
•If your baby feels hungry even after breastfeeding and formula milk.
•When your baby readily opens mouth to accept the food in mashed /pureed form.
Let’s take a look at top 10 healthy baby weaning foods.
1. Cereals: When you start giving food to your baby, begin with rice cereal preferably brown rice which is unrefined, and contains Vitamin B, Magnesium, Iron and Fiber which makes it a complete nutritious food. You can also give Oats and Raagi and Moong Dal in boiled and smashed form.
2. Juice/ Milk Shakes Fresh fruit juices including that of mosambi (sweet lime), orange, pomegranate, watermelon, etc. are rich in vitamin C and other nutrients and keep the body hydrated. Avoid giving packaged juices to the baby as they may consist of preservatives that are harmful to the tiny tot. Alternately, you can blend a milkshake with the fruits and formula or breast milk including apple, strawberry, mango, chikoo, papaya, etc. and feed.
3. Fruits: Fruits are very healthy first food option as they contain essential nutrients that the baby will need now in the absence of breast milk. Since fruits are packed with natural sugar, they are sweet in taste and babies’ favourite. Start with banana mash it well so that it becomes soft and then feed the child. You could also add breast milk or formula to get a smoother consistency that will be easy for the baby to swallow. Once the baby is comfortable with bananas, you could move ahead and introduce other fruits including apple, pear, mangoes, papaya, chikoo, etc. Initially peel, steam and mash the apples and pears- owing to their thick nature and once the baby grows a little older, you could give it the normal way.
4. Clear Soups: Clear soups with pureed vegetables combined with a good amount of water can easily be a full meal for the baby. Start with making these soups with only one vegetable, for instance, pumpkin, spinach, carrots, peas, and tomato soup, lest any allergy that the baby develops and then move on to mixing vegetables like a tomato carrot, peas, bottle gourd soup. Do not add any tasting agent to the soups as they are not recommended for babies.
5. Vegetables: Once, the baby loves and indulges in fruits, the next step is introducing vegetables. Vegetables are very important for the baby’s growth as they contain all the important nutrients including carbohydrates, fats, which is required for the development once they are weaned off breast milk. You can start with boiled and mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beetroots, spinach, capsicum, tomatoes, French beans, mix pulses with cereals, etc. Once comfortable, you could cut carrots in finger-sized shapes and give the baby a salad. Gradually over the months, you could stop mashing the vegetables and give it as a whole so that the baby learns to pick it up, mash it in the mouth and gulp it down. Wash the vegetables nicely before consuming and with the rise in usage of pesticides, it’s a good idea to use organic vegetables.
6. Green leafy vegetables: Greens are an excellent source of nutrition especially iron and other minerals. Spinach, pea leaves, etc. can be boiled, mashed, seasoned and fed to the baby.
7. Legumes: Rich in proteins, nicely boiled and mashed legumes with a little seasoning make up for a very healthy meal option for the baby.
8. Pulses with Rice or Chapatti: Pulses burst with proteins and help in the baby’s bodybuilding activity. A small portion of these combined with a little portion of rice, mashed well and seasoned turns into dal khichdi, a healthy meal for the baby. Dilute the consistency so that it is easily swallowed. This comfort food can then be variated by adding vegetables with some pure home-made ghee making it a nutritious meal. You can also feed small pieces of multigrain mix chapatti dipped in dal.
9. Regular home food: Once, the baby has adjusted to the above-mentioned food, you could start with regular home-cooked food like khichdi, idli, dosa, chappati, curd rice, vegetable stew, dal, ragi, and wheat dalia, etc. but ensure that it isn’t spicy as it may impact the digestive system. Avoid salt and sugar till baby completes 1 year.
10. Eggs, Meat, and Fish: Now that your baby is comfortable with solids, you could introduce animal proteins and eggs. However, as per IAP recommendation preferably after the completion of 1 year.
While you start with solid food, ensure that there is an easy transition for the baby from breast milk to solids. Start with one meal and then gradually introduce the other meals of the day. Always introduce any new food item in the morning so that the baby can be monitored throughout the day. When you start with solids, repeat the same food for at least a week before you introduce the other type of food to look for any kind of allergy and discomfort and baby acceptance. If a baby develops any kind of rash or an allergy because of a particular type of food, immediately stop giving it and contact your doctor. Avoid combinations of food initially as you wouldn’t be able to pinpoint on the food that causes an allergy if any. While initially, the baby might reject the food as it is coming out of its comfort zone, persistent trying will ensure the baby showing acceptance. Besides, emphasize on giving freshly cooked home-based food.
Inputs by Dr. Atish Laddad, Founder & Director at Docterz