Feeding your baby doesn’t have to be hard when you know what to feed. When your baby turns 6 months old, it is time for you to provide them with additional nutrition. This is the time to introduce solid foods in their diet. Remember that it will only ‘complement’ breastmilk, and hence the name- ‘complementary foods’. Here are some qualities every mother must look for in complementary foods for infants:
Your baby has a delicate digestive system. Hence, it is important to pick age-appropriate foods. For example, foods like ghee that are considered highly nutritious can be difficult to digest for infants. Complementary food for a baby should provide adequate nutrition for the baby’s development. Cereals and pulses are well-suited for a baby’s digestive system.
Babies have a small stomach. Initially, your baby may eat only about 1/2 tsp of complementary food. To get an idea of how much your baby needs to eat, take a look at his fist. Do not feed your baby anything more than the size of their fist.
When introducing solid foods, take care that the food is easy to digest. Purees are often advised since such foods reduce the amount of work the baby’s stomach needs to do before it can absorb nutrients. You can consider well-mashed vegetables, rice gruel, khichdi and dal soup.
When it comes to cooking solid foods for your baby, steaming is often the best option. This retains the maximum nutritive value of the food.
Though your baby has a small stomach, their nutritive needs are high. Hence, it is important to feed your infant that are rich in energy and nutrition. Each meal should provide balanced nutrition in terms of carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins.
Avoid these foods and give your baby foods that are nutrient rich such as fruits, vegetables, powdered nuts and whole grain cereals.
Complementary foods should not be watery. The aim at this stage is to teach your infant how to swallow. Hence, it is recommended to feed mashed or pureed food to your baby for the first few months. You may then introduce finely chopped foods in small portions. For example - cooked cereals and steamed vegetables. Avoid foods such as popcorn, nuts, berries and whole grapes as these are easy to eat.
Always ensure your baby’s food is hygienically prepared. Wash your hands and your baby’s face before feeding your child to keep germs at bay. Always use boiled water to cook your baby’s food and wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking.
Never feed your baby food that has been left over from a previous meal. Food should always be freshly cooked and fed while warm.
As your baby grows older, you may introduce food with added vitamins and minerals to bridge the gap between their nutritional needs and the food eaten. This will help your child grow stronger.