At no other time of life food is so important as in the first year of life (infancy). The kind, amount and sanitation of this food as well as the manner of feeding require particular attention which plays dividends in the form of a healthy, happy to baby. The nutrient requirements are high per unit of body weight because of rapid growth. In fact, in no other period of life growth is so rapid as in infancy.
Every mother is aware of that food prepared for adults are not always suitable for infants. But most of mothers do not realise that foods suitable for them can be easily prepared. They go for expensive baby foods which are sometimes beyond their reach.
Satisfactory foods can be planned and prepared for infants and children at home without using much expensive food stuffs.
We all know that breast milk is best food for the baby. But after 6 months, breast milk alone is not sufficient to meet the growing needs of the infants. Certain other food need to be provided along with breast milk so as to supplement the short fall in the nutrients. The right time to start with supplements is after six months as per the guidelines. If we start too early, the child always at an increased risk of diarrhoea and if too late there is a constant fear of malnutrition.
Please note: Breast feeding has to be continued with supplementary foods.
The texture of consistency of the supplements can be modified according to the age of the infants, thus providing them with liquid supplements between 8-12 months. Liquid supplements include fruit juice, vegetable soups, soupy dal and cattle milk. In early stafes awe can start with half ounce and gradually this amount can be increased upto 3 ounces per feed.
As the child grows, from liquid supplements there is a gradual transition to semisolid foods. The semisolid foods are mostly porridges made out of the stable food of the community (wheat, rice, maize, jowar, etc) These cereals are generally cooked with milk and sugar. Some commonly used porridges are ‘Dalia’, ‘Rice Kheer’, ‘Suji Kheer’, ‘Ragi Kanjee’, ‘Sabudana Kheer’ etc. The porridge should be such that the child can swallow it easily. To ensure that the porridge is not thick and to reduce its build ARF (Amylase Rich Food) is added to porridge.
The ARF is nothing but flour obtained from germinated grain like wheat, bajra, jowar, maize etc. Germinated grain flour contains a lot of amylase which makes the porridge soft , thin and easy to eat. Grains can be germinated, drained in Sun, powdered and the stored in air tight containers. Quarter to half tea-spoon of ARF powder can be added to the cooked porridge when it is still hot (around 70*C). Other than porridge, boiled and mashed and given as such where as had fruits like apple, pineapple, peaches, banana etc. need to be first stewed and mashed before being served. Boiled dals, egg yolk, boiled fish and meat can also be given along with a little salt and butter.
When the baby starts teething around 8 months, it is the right time to introduce thick solid foods. The foods which were boiled and mashed earlier should now be just boiled and cut into small pieces. Boiled rice and small pieces of chapaties may also be given. Hard and crunchy foods are liked by the infants during the time of teething biscuits, toast, rusk, raw carrot, apple, cucumber are ideal food items for the child to chew.
Various food mixtures prepared from cereals, pulses, fruits, nuts, animals foods, vegetables, milk and its products during this period. It has been noticed that children who are brought up on a variety of foods lives healthier and have much healthier tastes than those of brought up just milk and biscuits, fruits juice and vitamins. A mixed diet will not only upgrade the protein quality but will also prevent the development of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. By the age of one year the baby can take all solid foods. In fact the child can eat all the foods prepared for family meals.
Most of the problems of food acceptability in children being around one year of age. The problem in fact starts with the mother, who thinks the child should be well fed and tried to feed the child more food that its needs. The mother should have patience and should help the child in developing good food habits gradually. Learning is a slow process and here the child learning to eat new foods one after the another.
So, have patience, be supportive and the result will be happy, healthy baby.