Bringing a baby into the world is a miracle, but giving them a healthy lifestyle and providing them with a stimulating and loving environment is equally important. While breastmilk is best for babies for the first six months, it may not be sufficient for fast-growing babies. Supplementing the breastmilk is necessary to provide them with nutrition essential for their continued overall growth. Introducing your child to the food other than breastmilk can be quite a challenge.
From the six months of age, a child can start eating a variety of other foods. It is very beneficial for the child to get used to various tastes and food textures at this age rather than later. This exposure can lay the foundation of healthy eating for the child.
While there are no hard and fast rules on the superfoods that you must feed your child for the first time, the things to keep in mind are the colour, freshness of the food, and the introduction of the age-appropriate taste and textures.
Following are some of the foods that can provide your child with wholesome nutrition:
1. Avocados are rich in vitamins A and C, folate, magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus and can be great first foods for your baby. These are good sources of essential fats and nutrition for a growing baby. The creamy texture of the avocados makes it easy for the baby to swallow the food and digest it well.
2. Bananas are rich in vitamins A and C, folate, selenium, magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus and can be a good first food for your baby. Bananas help with digestion. Their natural sweetness may find more acceptance with the babies.
3. Apples can also be given but must be cooked, mashed, and strained before giving it to the baby. Ensure that no fibre containing food is given to the baby as the digestive system is still not very mature.
4. Pears rich in vitamins A, C, folate, magnesium, and calcium can be boiled, pureed to a smooth paste and given to the baby, has natural sweetness for taste. It is naturally sweet therefore no sugar should be added.
5. Rice cereal mixed with lukewarm and purified water or milk can be given with spoon to the baby. No more than a couple of tablespoons at a time to be fed.
6. Pulses especially the green gram can be given as it is easily digestible. The water used to boil the green gram can be given to the baby or used to dilute other supplement foods as it is high in nutrients especially protein.
7. Sweet Potato is rich in Vitamins A, and C, folate, potassium, selenium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. Peel the sweet potatoes and boil them until they are soft. Use the leftover water to thin it out for the first few times. Puree it into a smooth texture and feed it to your baby.
8. Yoghurt either plain or whole-milk yoghurt is a protein-rich food for your baby. The probiotic nature of the yoghurt helps to strengthen the digestive system of your baby.
9. Meat can be started when the child is 7 to 10 months old. It is an excellent source of protein. Ensure that the meat is pureed to a smooth paste as there will be a risk of choking even with finely chopped pieces.
10. Vegetables such as carrots, bottle gourd, pumpkin can be introduced after the baby has adjusted to cereals and fruits. Boil the vegetables and blend them into a smooth puree before feeding your baby.
For many first-time mothers, there may be many questions before starting supplement foods or solids for their babies.
Here are few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind before you start your baby on any new food:
- Check with your paediatrician before starting your baby on solid foods. Normal age to start the solids or semi-solids is around six months.
- The child should be able to sit up with some support, have good neck and head control and can keep the food in the mouth and swallow it, to start the solid foods.
- Start with one kind of food and then gradually move to others to watch out for any acute reactions to the food. If there are any reactions such as hives, boils, etc. stop the food immediately and try it after 2 to 3 months.
- Start with a small quantity of food and then gradually increase it over a period.
- Just because the baby has started eating other foods, it does not mean that you should stop breastfeeding (if you have been). Breastfeeding remains the main source of nutrition for your baby.
- Do not add any taste enhancers (sugar, honey, salt, etc.) to your baby’s food to coerce the baby to like the food. The baby must be given natural food and should experience the natural taste and textures.
- Do not force your baby to eat the food once he or she has turned their face away. The babies know best when their stomach is full and when they do not like the taste.
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- Baby Center – Accessed on March 14, 2016 – http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a546661/which-foods-to-introduce-when
- Kids Health – Accessed on March 14, 2016 – http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/feed47m.html