As an infant grows, their nutritional needs also increase. In the first 6 months, your baby needs just around 500 Kcal per day. However, this calorie intake increases to around 1060 Kcal per day by the time your baby reaches the age of 1 to 3. A baby’s health and development depends largely on the food quantity and quality. Thus, for babies to reach to their full potential, they must get adequate nutrition.
Here is a set of FAQs which will answer all your questions regarding your baby’s meal schedule:
Babies can be introduced to solid foods when they are about 6 months old. What is important to remember is that the solid food introduced in your baby’s diet should have a creamy consistency. Blended or pureed foods are ideal. This is easy to digest and trains your baby to swallow food easily. Do not worry too much about following a generic schedule of introducing solid foods in your child’s diet. Babies have different flavor preferences and will shift to solid foods in their own time.
Ideally, you should not introduce new food to your baby when they are not feeling very hungry. It may be better to breastfeed your baby a little before introducing any new food item to them. Your baby is more likely to be willing to try something new when they are not very hungry. Use a small, narrow spoon that fits into your baby’s mouth. If your baby pushes the spoon away, do not force-feed. Instead, wait and try again after a few days.
The quantity of food for a 6-month old baby may be around 1/2 to 1 tsp at a time. For a while, after you introduce solid food, you may need to complement this new diet with breastfeeding. Let your baby decide how much they want to eat at each sitting.
To begin with, you can give boiled fruits, rice, pulses, oats, and vegetables and then blend them to form a smooth puree. The puree should not be watery.
Once your baby can swallow these purees easily, you may start introducing more textured foods that require slight chewing. Khichdi and Dalia are ideal food at this stage.
When your baby starts enjoying solid foods, you may begin adding food with added vitamins and minerals to their diet.
Do not introduce more than one thing at a time. This allows you to ensure that your baby is not allergic to any particular food and helps your baby develop different flavor profiles. Also, do not add any seasoning to your baby’s food till they reach the age of 1.
Once your baby has accepted a variety of flavors, you can try mixing and matching them, to create something different each day.
Some signs of allergic reactions you should watch out for include rashes, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Food with added vitamins and minerals help bridge the gap between your infant’s nutritional needs and the nutrition being provided by solid foods. In particular, these kind of food are enriched with iron needed for healthy growth and development.
Different nutrients play different roles in your baby’s growth. Protein, Iron, Calcium, Zinc and Vitamin D are essential for healthy growth and development. Essential fatty acids like LA, ALA, DHA and Omega 3 along with vitamin A, iron, Iodine, and Folic Acid play an important role in their brain and vision development. Zinc and Vitamin A, C, and E are important for your baby’s immune system. In addition, prebiotics and probiotics help develop the digestive system.
A baby’s nutritional needs are very different from that of an adult. Though their stomach may be as small as their fist, their nutritional needs are 10 times that of an adult per kg body weight. By the time a baby is 6 months old, his or her weight should be double their actual birth weight. By the first birthday, your baby’s weight should be triple their birth weight. Thus, it is important to feed your baby nutrient-dense foods.
The initial years of a child’s life is vital for their growth and development. What he or she eats at that time, affects their health in the subsequent years. Therefore, it is extremely important to choose the food and its quantity wisely to fulfill your baby’s nutritional needs.