Baby Care

Tips on feeding your baby: Healthy and nutritious food at each stage | Health

Adequate nutrition during infancy and early childhood are essential to ensure the growth, health and development of children to their full potential. Poor nutrition increases the risk of illness, whereas inappropriate nutrition can also lead to childhood malnutrition.

Tips on feeding your baby: Healthy and nutritious food at each stage (Karolina Grabowska)

Hence, it is important to focus on feeding the baby healthy and nutritious food at each stage. From birth to one year is a crucial period for a baby’s health. In this phase, following the feeding stages is very important.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Sandeep Sawant, Head of Pediatric Department at Medicover Hospitals in Navi Mumbai, suggested healthy foods which can be recommended to kids as per age category:

First 6 months:

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months is necessary. Breast milk is excellent food and meets all nutritional needs of the baby for the first 6 months. No water or cow/buffalo milk is to be given during this period.

6 months to 12 months:

Inadequate feeding of infants and young children during the first 2yrs of life is the main cause of malnutrition. Therefore beyond 6 months of age starting complementary feeding in addition to breastfeeding is an important step. Beyond 6 months breast milk alone is not sufficient to meet the growing needs of the growing baby because infants grow at a very rapid rate.

Start with single ingredient food. Infants and young children need to be fed 5 -6 times per day including breastfeeding. The staple cereal of the family should be used to make the first food. Porridge is made with suji (semolina), broken wheat, atta (wheat flour), ground rice, ragi, millet, etc by using little water or formula milk.

Roasted flour of any cereal can be mixed with boiled water and little ghee to make the first food. Adding Jaggery and ghee or oil is important as it increases the energy value. Initially porridge should be a little thinner but as the child grows older the consistency has to be thicker. A thick porridge is more nutritious than a thin one.

Once the child is eating the porridge well mixed food including cooked cereal, pulse and vegetables could be given to the child. Mixed food like khichadi, Dalia, suji, kheer, upma, idli, dhokla, rice-vegetable, etc can also be given. Idli with ghee and jaggery and rice can be made more nutritious by adding dal or vegetables to it. Khichadi can be made more nutritious by adding vegetables.

In case the family cannot make porridge for the infant separately, pieces of half chapati soaked in half a cup of formula milk or boiled water, mashed properly can be fed to the baby after adding jaggery and ghee. Fruits like banana, papaya, chikoo, mango, etc can be given at this age in mashed form. Infants can also be given reconstituted instant infant food which can be made at home from the food grains available.

These mixes can be stored at least for 1 month in an airtight container. Eg: Sattu like preparation (very familiar in the Indian community): made by 3 parts of cereal (wheat/rice) or millet (ragi/bajara/jowar -sorghum). Add one part of any pulse (moong/chana/Arhar) plus half part of groundnut or white Sesame(Til) if available. These food items should be roasted separately, ground, mixed properly, and stored in an airtight container.

For feeding the baby:

Take 2 tablespoons of this instant infant food mix and add boiled water or formula milk, jaggery, and oil/ ghee and mix well. Cooked and mashed carrot, pumpkin, or green leafy vegetables can be added to the porridge if available.

Instant infant food can be offered when freshly cooked food in the family is not available. Besides the family and instant infant food, protective food like milk, eggs, fish, fruits, and vegetables are also important in the healthy growth of the infant.

Green leafy vegetables, carrots, pumpkins, and seasonal fruits are important to ensure good Vit A and iron status in the diet.

After 12 months:

Along with the diet mentioned above, A year old child eats everything which we eat but not too hard and not too spicy, not too hot or too cold.

Must avoid:

1. Salt and sugar should be discouraged.

2. Avoid nuts, grapes, raw carrots, and round candies in babies less than one year of age (to prevent choking)

2. Also, honey, soda, tea and coffee are to be avoided.

3. Over consumption of juices and sweetened beverages.

4. Avoid energy-rich and nutrient-poor snacks (salty snacks, cookies, sweetened beverages)

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