As the baby grows older and her activity levels increase, her requirements for all the nutrients increase. A baby, who needs just 500 Kcal per day when she is 0-6 months old, goes on to need around 1060 Kcal per day between the ages of 1-3 years. WHO recommends introducing complementary foods to babies when they become 6 months old, since the mother’s milk is no longer able to fulfill their increased nutrient requirements.
Adequate nutrition during infancy and early childhood is essential for growth, health and development of children. Proper nutrition during infancy and early childhood is important for babies to achieve their full growth potential.
When to introduce solids?
Most doctors recommend not giving first tastes when your baby is very hungry. Consider feeding your baby a small amount of breast milk before offering any food. She’ll be more likely to accept eating off a spoon if she’s not extremely hungry. The first time you feed your baby will be messy. Until now your baby has only been used to a completely liquid diet, so it will take your baby some time to get used to swallowing something solid. Use a small, narrow spoon. Put a small amount towards the middle of your baby’s tongue. If she seems interested, give her a few more tastes with the spoon. However, if she pushes the spoon away, wait a few days and then try again. Respect her need for more time.
When you begin, your baby will take in only a few spoonfuls in the entire day, but gradually this amount will increase. Once your baby can manage smooth purées, the next step is to start to learn how to chew. For this stage she’ll need foods with more mouth-feel. When introducing solids to your sitter, offer only one new food a week. This way you can look out for any allergic reactions. Signs of allergy can include rash, and even vomiting or diarrhoea. Do not offer mixed ingredient foods until you are sure that your baby isn’t allergic to any of the individual ingredients. Also, it is best not to add any seasoning to your baby’s food.
It’s best to begin with soft and slightly liquidy mashed or blended foods and gradually progress to more textured foods Experiment with many combinations of food that has been accepted earlier on it’s own. You could mix apple and pear, banana and oats, pulses with vegetables and rice, changing the combinations daily.
Freshly cooked preparations such as khichdi and dalia are excellent foods for your little one. You can vary the taste and texture to suit your baby and add the tastes baby accepts more readily. As your baby begins to accept different kinds of food, you could also move on to include fortified foods. These foods can play a role in bridging any nutrient gaps in your baby’s diet. Fortified foods are generally nutritious and are designed to specially meet the nutritional requirements of your child six months onwards. They are often fortified with iron to take care of your baby’s increasing iron needs for proper growth and development.
How much food?
Your baby’s tummy is as small as her fist. While it is 10 times smaller than that of an adult, her nutritional needs are nearly double than yours. So compared to you, she needs more nutrition from a much lesser amount of food. It is important to understand why babies have very different nutritional needs from adults. Babies have to double their birth weight in the first six months and triple it by the end of the first year. Their brain also increases in size as does their height. Therefore they have higher requirements for energy and certain key vitamins and minerals than adults relative to their size. To fulfill these high nutrient requirements, babies need to consume energy and nutrient dense foods.
When you first start your baby on solids, the amount that she actually takes in may be quite small - around half a teaspoon at first, diluted to the consistency of cream. But take care that the mixture should not be liquid. The chief aim of this feeding exercise is to introduce solids and to train your sitter to swallow. So, let your baby decide how much food she wants at each meal.
Increase the quantity gradually, as your baby starts to accept new foods.Your baby will move from total dependence to independence in the process of feeding, like in all other development areas. The instinct to make this transition is naturally present, but you also have a critical role to play. Go at your baby’s pace. Rushing the process or force feeding will not achieve any purpose. Most babies know when they’ve had enough to eat and we need to trust these natural signals. Remember, all babies are different and will have their own preferences about what they like to eat and when they are ready to eat.
Meeting a baby’s nutritional requirements
As your baby grows from sitter to toddler stage, she needs nutrients for healthy growth and development (these include energy, protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D, zinc); for brain and vision development (essential fatty acids, that include LA, ALA, DHA, omega3, as well as iron, iodine, vitamin A, folic acid); and for immunity and protection (vitamins A, E, and C and zinc). She also needs probiotics and prebiotics for a healthy digestive system. To make sure that your baby is getting all the required nutrients, it is essential that you gradually introduce her to a variety of healthy foods from all the various food groups. These little tummies do not demand much; they just need balanced nutritious foods that help them grow well.
Importance of Complementary Feeding.
As the baby’s diet changes from being completely dependent on mother’s milk to complementary feeds, parents wonder how many times a day should a baby be given complementary feeds when most of the times she demands for breastfeeding.
It is important that your baby gets a balance of fresh homemade foods as well as some fortified foods. Introducing different types of food will give them the balance of protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals they need for healthy growth and development. This is especially important in their first year when their food preferences are being formed.
The early years of your child’s life are very important in terms of nutrition. What your baby eats now can impact her overall development for many years to come. Teaching children healthy eating habits from an early age – in fact, as soon as they are able to consume solids – is the first step to raising a healthy child who will show a strong preference towards a healthy diet. A healthy mix of different foods along with fortified cereals will help you meet the nutritional needs of your growing baby. When you chose nutritious foods to be part of a varied and balanced diet, you are providing your baby with something that is crucial for