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Baby nutrition: When to start solids

As babies grow, their nutritional requirements also grow. Rapid growth for 6 months old babies and older requires more energy and nutrients than what alone milk can provide. It’s best to add solids along with milk to your child’s diet. What to start with – well at the start the baby needs only a small […]

As babies grow, their nutritional requirements also grow. Rapid growth for 6 months old babies and older requires more energy and nutrients than what alone milk can provide. It’s best to add solids along with milk to your child’s diet.
What to start with – well at the start the baby needs only a small amount of solids, once a day at a time. Weaning can be initiated with single vegetables and fruits or just boiled rice- either blended or mashed in a pasty texture. You can start with boiled rice or rice with baby milk, carrot, apple etc.
Include vegetables that are in season and not of very sweet or strong flavour, such as water gourd, pumpkin, leafy vegetables, etc. Add one new vegetable to the diet or routine after 4-5 days till all vegetables have been introduced to the baby. Slowly you may add lentils like washed lentils , a new pulse can be introduced after a week as it will help you create more recipes and will also ensure that your child is not allergic to any new foods that are being introduced. Gradually increase the amounts and variety using different food groups Babies do not need salt or sugar added to their food or cooking. Salt intake can hamper their kidney function whereas sugar can cause early tooth decay.
Certain foods can trigger allergic reactions, so it’s best to introduce them one at a time in very small amounts, so you can spot any reaction, e.g. nuts, cow’s milk, egg, gluten rich foods, seeds, soya, fish. Once introduced and if tolerated, keep offering those foods as part of your baby’s usual diet.
Vegetables
Fruits
Lentils
Starchy foods – rice, maize
Gradually move to other grains like – semolina, ragi and oats
Dairy
In between meal timings or at the start of a meal, offer your baby sips of water. Water naturally increases hunger so will help keep your child’s appetite up, at the same time- water helps in aiding constipation.
Sweet drinks like squashes, fizzy drinks, milk shakes etc. are not recommended.
To help babies get comfortable with different textures and tastes, try moving on to coarsely mashed and finger foods from pasty foods as soon as they are ready. This will help them learn how to chew and engage other facial muscles too. It’s a good idea to allow your child to hold onto a spoon as it will encourage them to self-feed and also improves eye-hand coordination.
At a time, babies take different amounts to get used to lumps or different textures, but it is a very important skill for them to learn. So keep your patience and keep offering them lumpy textures around 7 months of age and stay with them to ensure they dont choke themselves.
There is no right or wrong way while beginning to add foods to your baby’s diet. Most important is that your baby should eat a wide variety of food to meet their nutritional requirement.

The author is a Dietician.

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