Introducing Solid Foods To Your Baby’s Diet

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Jul 15, 2015

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Parents starting thinking about introducing solids to baby at around six months. This time can be stressful, because there are so many questions: What foods should I feed the baby? What if he doesn’t like apples/carrots/dal? What if he’s allergic to them? How do I know whether he’s getting all the required nutrients in adequate quantities?

There is no ‘right’ answer to any of these questions; breastfeeding children accept different types of food, in different quantities, at unique paces. Perhaps the easiest question to answer is how to plan your child’s meals so that he receives the right balance of nutrients between breast milk and solid foods. Here’s your guide.

GETTING STARTED

You can’t expect your child to take to foods the first day you’re starting baby on solids. If that happens, then you don’t force-feed her. Feed her expressed milk or breastfeed as usual, and then try adding solid foods again at the next feed.

Use the same combination of food consistently for a few days. This will help your child get used to the taste, and you will realize quickly if she is allergic to any foods. Try a small quantity every time, either before or after, you breastfeed. Have patience, and let your child guide you about what she does and doesn’t like.

FOOD COMBINATIONS THAT COMPLEMENT BREAST MILK

Cereals* + Pulses*

When cereals and pulses are consumed together, the body digests the protein from the pulses more completely than when either is consumed alone. Pulses not only provide this protein, but also fibre.

A mix of rice and dal is an easy way of combining these food groups. Create it by washing and drying the rice and dal together, then either dry roasting the mixture or roasting it in ghee. After roasting, grind the mix to create a powder. Add the powder to boiled, clean drinking water to create a paste with a milk-like consistency. When it’s cooled, sieve the mixture, which will ensure a familiar consistency while your child adjusts to the new taste. Then, take a bit on the tip of your (clean) finger and feed it to her. If she accepts it easily, feed her some more until she refuses to eat any further.

You can make a week’s supply of the powder at once, but remember to make a fresh paste each time you feed. You can mix it up by using expressed milk instead of water (though remember not to heat the expressed milk), or by alternating between cereals like rice and broken wheat and between pulses like dal and moong dal. Eventually, try adding methi or jeera to the mixture when roasting. After a month, you can also introduce pureed vegetables to the mix.

Cereals* + Milk

Combine cereal and milk, then sieve the mixture, to create a gruel. Don’t worry about the apparent lack of protein from the absence of pulses; milk is a better source of protein. Do not use salt or sugar in the gruel. Ideally, you should keep the mixture plain, ideally; if you must flavour it, add only a tiny amount of organic jaggery, which as a bonus contains nutrients your baby needs, such as iron. Wash, dry, and roast the cereal in the same manner as described above (though without the pulses). And don’t forget to sieve it before feeding your child.

Cereals* + Vegetables

When choosing a vegetable for your child’s meal, ideally pick veggies that are yellow, red, or orange, like bottle gourd, white and yellow pumpkins, carrots and others. These contain lots of Vitamin A, which helps develop your baby’s vision, bone growth, and immunity. Potatoes, tendli, and bhindi are also full of nutrients your baby needs. Whichever you choose, steam and puree it with the cereal, then sieve the mixture; vegetables are very fibrous, and sieving will enable your child to eat and digest them without trouble.

Cereals* + Fruits

You can give your child fruits like bananas, apples, or berries, though tangy berries may not be palatable to your child at first. Dry fruits like walnuts, almonds, and dried figs are also excellent. As with the vegetables, be sure to steam and puree the fruits and cereals together, then sieve the mixture before giving it to your child.

*Cereals include: Broken wheat, wheat, rice, bajra, jowar, corn and raji. Pulses include: Whole dals, moong, massoor, mutki, all types of channa, urad, kulthi, and rajma.

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Written By Ratnaraje Krishna Thar

Ratnaraje Krishna Thar, PhD, MSc. MPhil Foods Nutrition and Dietetics, is a nutritionist with a strong academic and research background, and twenty five years of experience in nutrition. She has presented research papers at national and international level, and has been active in community nutrition projects in Mumbai as well as rural and tribal areas of Maharashtra. She currently serves as faculty at Sophia Women’s Research Centre, a Nutritionist at Natural Health Centre for Better Health in Mumbai, a consultant with the Bay View Advisory Services Team and Shrimati Malati Dahanukar Trust, and handles clinical cases. She is currently working on developing a Nutrition app that will provide easy access to basic nutrition information.

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