Weaning is essential after the 5th month since the breast milk alone is not sufficient provide all the nutrients especially Iron.When you start weaning the infant, it has to get used to swallow 'non fluid food'.The lil one has to get used to new flavors, use of different muscles etc and hence this period can be a trying one not only for the infant but also to the mother.
I will classify the toddlers into two groups..
5 months to 12 months
1 year to 3 years.
- The diet in the first group can be subdivided further depending on the consistency of the diet ie liquid/semisolid/solid. Breast-milk is the ideal food for the newborn but after a few months it has to be supplemented with other feeds for attain certain nutritional needs.
- Breastfeeding can be done until the baby is one year old but sometimes it is not possible to do so in practice especially if the mother is working or has some illness. First of all we start with liquid supplements. Before starting this it is very important to consult your pediatrician.
- Diluted cow’s milk is often given first. Dilute the milk and boil it. This will destroy any harmful organisms present and will soften the proteins for the baby so that it can be easily digested by the lil one. Veggie soups and dhal water can be served .
- Moong dhal is the easiest to digest and the strained dhal water is the best to begin with. Thin strained soups of carrot, pumpkin, bottlegourd can be given later. When the baby is used to the soup and dhal water individually, you can try to mix dhal and veggie soup .
- As the lil one grows the need for vitamins and minerals increase and a well balanced diet is very essential.Fresh fruit/Vegetable juice can be given .Strain the juices for easier digestion. Always start with a single vegetable/fruit juice and then when the baby has adapted to its taste, make a combination of veggies / fruits and feed the baby. This will give variety to the meal.
- Carrots ,Orange, sweet lime can be given to the baby. Some pediatricians recommend fruits like custard apple, guava, grapes etc after the baby is one year old so as I always say , it is very important to consult your pediatrician before starting a new food.
- Sometimes the baby will spit out or make funny faces when a new food is introduced. It simply means the taste is new and it will take sometime to get used to the new food/taste/texture.
- Mashed rice is the most popular and easiest cereal. Later mashed dhal and pureed veggies can be added to rice. Baby’s will also like cereal porridges made with milk and you can start giving malted porridges which are amylase rich and are full of nutrients but at the same time easy to digest.
- Later on when the baby is comfortable with mashed cereal and porridges mashed fruits like banana, chickoo[sapota],stewed apple can be given. Fruits can be mashed with a little milk too.
- When the baby is around 7 months he/she will like new textures and we can now start with finely chooped/minced and cooked veggies,unstrained dhal,juices and soups. If the baby starts teething then you can introduce teething foods like teething biscuits. The baby will try to feed independently and it is important to supervise how the baby eats coz it might bite off large pieces and might choke.
- Slowly add mild flavors to the meal. The meal time will turn out to be a thing to look forward to as the baby will experience new tastes and textures. Add a little salt, onion, garlic and see the lil one enjoy the food.
- You can start homemade fruit shakes with diluted milk and also some cottage cheese[paneer]. When the baby is around 10 months old, the number of supplementary foods be increased. Encourage the baby to eat at least one meal with the family. By the time the baby is one year old, he/she must be in a position to eat almost all the foodstuffs.
- To develop a healthy eating pattern, it is better to establish a routine feeding time. Also it is advisable to refrain for feeding refined and deep fried foods as they do not provide too much nutrition.
- It is vital to remember that there is no fixed demarcation as to when the child should be introduced to semi solid or solid foods. As I said before it all depends on the personal preferences ,teething, baby’s ability to accept and adapt to the changes in diet, pediatricians advice etc.
5 to 6 months
Moong dhal water
Masoor dhal water
Moong dhal kichidi
Fruit juices[Papaya,musk melon,sapota]
Milkshakes[sapota, banana, strawberry]
Add cream cheese/paneer to fruits like apricots, figs, dates etc.
Mashed curd rice
Chickpea spinach mash
Rotis /chapathi plain or with veggies
Mildly flavoured veggie pulao
Add soya in small quantities
Over 1 year
The choice is unlimited and all we need to do is use our creativity in preparing food for the toddler. Incorporating the foods with the right nutrient is essential and sometimes we may need to ‘conceal’ certain foods in order to feed a fussy child. You can try meethi paratha if the lil one hates greens and give vegetable idlis if the child does not like to eat veggies.
MIL used to say that her sister had a superb way to feed egg to her daughter.She would conceal bits of boiled egg in the idli.[Pour half a ladle batter into the mold ,put in a few pieces of boiled egg and top it up with more batter.]This iddli would then be soaked in sambar and her niece not knowing what is inside used to gobble up the idli!!! Great idea, rite!!!
Whatever is the method used to feed the toddler, it is essential to ensure that he/she takes a well balanced diet.
What to avoid till the baby is 1 year old...
Many a times mothers are not aware of what to give or what to avoid till the infant is a year old. There are numerous myths and misconceptions and these easily confuse them. But some common advises are listed-
1. Avoid honey and limit the use of sugar and salt.
2. Avoid feeding the child tea/coffee. The tannin in tea interferes with iron absorption and caffeine is not recommended for children.
3. Avoid giving fruit squashes or diet drinks. Artificial sweeteners are not suitable for babies and young children.
4.It is better to avoid foods which may carry a risk of food poisoning, such as soft mould-ripened cheeses (brie, camembert) and soft-boiled or raw eggs.
5.Baby's need calories so don't feed the baby with skim milk or low fat milk.
6. Some pediatricians recommend fruits like custard apple, guava, grapes etc after the baby is one year old.
So talk to your peadiatrician about the food choices.
Here are some guidelines for weaning [includes liquid, semi solid or solid]
1) Weaning is a period of experimentation not only for the baby but also to the mother. For some this transition can be easy while for others it can be difficult phase. Mothers tend to overfeed the baby or worry if the baby is eating too little. The baby actually guides us and all we need to do is to understand the needs of the baby. If the baby cries at the sight of food or understands and signals when u ask if he is hungry then its meal time. If the baby feeds and then turns his head away from food then it means he’s full. A little bit of understanding will make this period a very enjoyable one for the mother and the baby.
2) Always consult your pediatrician before starting anything new to feed.
3) Use sterilized vessels, cups and spoon for the baby and also boiled water to feed the infant. Prepare food in a hygienic condition.
4) Start a new food a few spoons at a time and then go on to larger quantities.
5) Start the new foods in the day time so that you can watch-out for any allergy/reaction[like cough, rashes, etc] and moreover the food is easily digestible during the day.
6) Also it is important to introduce one food at a time. In case any allergy develops we will not be aware of food that caused the allergy. Hence it is better to leave a gap of a few days between each new food.
7) Do not show personal dislike towards the food as the baby is easily influenced by the mother.
8) It is said that the baby does not show the preference towards salty or sweet foods hence its wiser to avoid them till around 7 months.Also it is advisable to avoid use of strong spices till this time.
9) Check the temperature and the taste of the food before feeding it to the little one.
10) When the lil one is sick ask the pediatrician about the changes to be done in the diet.
So if you have any recipes, tips or ideas do send it across for the event 'Tasty bites for toddlers'
Please note:This information provided here is just a guideline and not a medical advice. Consult your pediatrician before starting a new food....