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A Comprehensive Guide to Complementary Feeding and When to Start

A Comprehensive Guide to Complementary Feeding and When to Start

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Breastfeeding is one of the first and most important forms of contact between you and your child. With age, your baby’s hunger and nutritional demands increase, and you start looking for alternatives. Complementary feeding is aimed at satisfying a growing child’s hunger. Along with fulfilling nutritional requirements, the goal is to expand the baby’s food choices. It is an initial step in establishing food independence in kids, right from the beginning.

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

When is the right time to introduce complementary foods?

Look for signs that indicate that your infant is ready and interested in trying out new foods. These signs include:

  • Reaching out for foods
  • Showing a desire to participate when the rest of the family is eating
  • Picking up foods and trying to taste them
  • Becoming increasingly responsive when food is within sight
  • Sitting upright and leaning forward

A vast majority of 4-6 month-olds display such behaviour. 6 months is considered an appropriate age for the introduction of complementary foods.

Some things to keep in mind while introducing complementary feeding:


  • It is vital to maintain good hygiene practices. Wash your hands before and after preparing your baby’s food. Sometimes, your infant might try to pick at the food and taste it. So make sure that your baby’s hands are clean as well.
  • Use clean utensils to prepare and serve food. This includes cups, bowls and spoons.
  • Store your ingredients and preparations in clean containers.

Food consistency:

You can start by feeding your 6-month-old infant pureed, mashed and semi-solid foods. Porridges made of semolina (suji), broken wheat, wheat flour (atta), ragi, and millets serve as good complementary foods. Add jaggery, sugar and ghee to improve their taste and increase their energy value. Use breast milk or water to maintain consistency. Initially, a thin porridge solution will work best. As the baby grows, you can make it thicker.

An infant’s diet should contain vegetables, fruits, cooked cereals and pulses. You can introduce these once the baby becomes accustomed to eating porridge.

Fortified baby foods:

Often, breast milk and homemade food preparations alone do not provide all the nutrients necessary for the development of a child. Fortified foods contain essential micro-nutrients and, along with homemade preparations, may help fulfil nutrition gap.

Number of feeds:

  • If your infant is 6-8 months old, feed him complementary foods 2-3 times a day.
  • From the 9th month onwards, you can feed him complementary foods 3-4 times a day [1].

Complementary feeding helps meet the increasing energy needs of your growing baby. Babies need nutritious meals to fuel their adorable adventures, when they start exploring the world around them.

As a parent, you need to know of nutrients necessary for your baby’s growth at every stage. Knowing their nutrient requirements can help you understand what kind of complementary food to feed them.



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