Many questions come into mind especially when you are a first-time mom. And one of the questions is when can I introduce baby food to my baby? And what type of food should we give to them?
The same question was revolving in my mind too. My baby turned 4 months and I asked our pediatrician, when can I introduce baby food. She responded, ideally we should introduce baby food at the age of 6 months, but in some cases when the baby is not gaining much weight through breast milk, we can start weaning a baby at the age of 4 months as well.
My baby was not gaining much weight from breastfeeding, hence she allowed me to introduce baby food to her at the age of 4 months.
But before I introduced baby food, she informed me to take care of the below points.
- The process of weaning a baby off breastfeeding should be gradual.
- Start with very light food like coconut water, lentil soup, mild purees, etc.
- Slowly introduce different tastes and textures to your baby so that you can keep track of the baby’s likes and dislikes the nutritional value of the food, and the transition from liquid to solid food.
- Try different foods at an interval of 3-4 days of gap & observe baby during these days, if she gets allergic to any food or gets pain in her tummy.
- The food given should be smooth texture and does not contain any chunks. Chunks can cause choking in a baby who has not learned to chew his food before swallowing.
- Do not rush the process. Let the baby take its own time.
- Stick to home-cooked food and avoid sugars and salts.
- Food should be cooled to room temperature.
- Allow the baby to digest the food and baby should not throw up.
- Don’t force a baby to have the food if he/she is not willing to have it.
- Instead of giving the baby a bottle to suck on, try using a spoon or a free-flow beaker This will also help prevent tooth decay.
- While weaning a baby never leave them alone.
I introduce baby food to my daughter, at first I tried apple puree. She liked it very much and I could see that she enjoyed that and wanted to have more. But as per the doctor’s advice, I didn’t give too much of it to her and observed her for 3-4 days. All went well with her and I start weaning her with different food. Sometimes she liked some food and sometimes, she didn’t like them at all. We could see the expressions on her face.
Weaning a baby is important however a tricky process. Every child is different and needs to be treated differently when it comes to weaning. Some babies may wean earlier than the others, while the process of weaning might be abrupt in others. Weaning a baby off breast milk can lead to engorgement and discomfort for the mother. This can be reduced by feeding breast milk to the baby in a mug until your child has reduced breast milk consumption.
In addition to these precautions, understand what food is healthy and what food can be dangerous.
Nutritious food for weaning a baby includes fruits that contain natural sugars, mashed vegetable purees, and fresh juices. Choose homemade food instead of canned food. In case you are buying packaged food make sure you avoid ones that have too many preservatives, added sugars, and sweetening syrups. Baked savories are best avoided too!
Focus On A Balanced Baby Weaning Diet
The diet of a child is very different from ours. Ideally, an adult requires more fiber than fat to digest complex foods faster while a baby requires more fat than fiber. Too much fiber in the diet will prevent the absorption of nutrients from other foods that are required at this stage. Make a weaning baby schedule according to the age and avoid adding any sugar or sugar syrup to their diet. Also, avoid salts as their kidneys are not capable of absorbing excess salts.
Baby food from 6 to 9 months
Here is a list of weaning foods I tried for my baby as she grew.
Stage 1 – When the baby is six months old:
a. Start with mashed or pureed vegetables (carrots, pumpkins, potato, sweet potato, sponge gourd or ash gourd).
b. Slurpy Khichdi (Rice & lentils).
c. Fruit purees like ripe and cooked apple, pear or mashed banana.
d. Gluten free baby cereals. (Only when home cooked food is not available or while travelling).
Stage 2 – When the baby learns how to use a spoon:
a) Purees of lean meat, poultry, lentils, split peas, mixed vegetables and green vegetables like cabbage and spinach
b) Slowly incorporate full cream milk, yogurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese or custard.
c) Do not include cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk as the baby’s primary food until he/she is a year old.
Stage 3: Between 7 to 9 months (2 to 3 servings of starchy food, 1 serving of protein)
a) Squashed or minced lumpy food.
b) Starchy foods like khichdi, semolina upma, semolina porridge, sago porridge, durum wheat, breakfast cereals or oats can be given.
c) Cornmeal, potatoes, rice and millet.
d) Boiled and cooled water.
e) Diluted fresh fruit juices in cups during meals.
f) Citrus fruits, fish, lean meat, poultry, lentils.
g) Finger foods like cooked green beans, carrots, cheese cubes, banana slices or soft pear.
Foods to Avoid during Weaning
- There are multiple foods that you should avoid feeding while weaning a baby. Here is a list of the foods to avoid.
- Salt: The baby’s kidneys cannot process the salt yet.
- Honey: No honey till the baby is one as it can cause infant botulism in babies.
- Sugar: Sweeten the food with mashed banana or stewed dry fruits puree. No artificial sweeteners as it encourages your child to develop a sweet tooth.
- Whole Nuts: They are a choking hazard and difficult to process.
- Certain Fish: To avoid mercury poisoning.
- Tea/Coffee: Do not tempt the child with even the slightest drop of the beverages. Caffeine and tannin are unsuitable for babies and prevent the absorption of vital nutrients in their bodies.
- Low-fat food: Any low-fat dairy or food products are unfit for the baby as they need calories.
- Risky Foods: Foods like moldy cheese, or soft boiled or raw eggs that can contain bacteria and are not killed in the cooking process.
Healthy Baby Weaning Recipes
In case you decide to cook at home for your baby, here are some easy recipes:
- Homemade Khichdi (My baby’s favorite food): Take the same amount of rice and moong daal (Pulses) & some pre-soaked Dalia (broken wheat), add chopped carrots, potatoes, green beans & bottle guard. Heat the pressure cooker, add 1-2 spoons of pure ghee (Clarified butter), crackle some cumin seeds (Jeera), and put all the ingredients in the vessel and add a generous amount of water. Cook un-till 3-4 whistle. Mash the Khichdi if there are some chunks of vegetables. Serve Lukewarm.
- Banana & Chapati mix (My baby’s favorite food) – Recommended for babies above 9 months of age.: Take one banana and a small chapati. Now add some milk and grind well. No chunks should be left. Serve immediately.
- Chapati dipped in daal (cooked lentil) (My baby’s favorite food) – Recommended for babies who start to chew food: Take one chapati, break it into pieces, and dip it in the cooked lentil. Let it dip for half an hour, so that chapati becomes soft to chew. Serve immediately. – Make sure not to break chapati into big pieces, it makes choke the baby.
- Apple puree: Place one large eating apple (peeled and cored) over low heat for 5 – 8 minutes until soft. Puree and sieve out. Serve lukewarm.
- Banana mash: Mash one ripe banana and serve immediately.
- Tender green peas puree: Simmer green peas (75g) until just tender. Puree with a little cold, boiled water, or your baby’s usual milk and stir in some cooked baby rice (1 tbsp.).
- Carrot and pumpkin mash: Steam or simmer two carrots (peeled and diced) and a small portion of pumpkin (peeled and diced) until tender and mash them together. You could thicken this up with some baby rice.
- Fresh fruity yogurt: Take any ripe seasonal fruit and peel or chop as required. Boil the fruit in water (1 tbsp.) in a small saucepan. Simmer until fruit is softened and puree. After cooling, stir into natural yogurt (4 tbsp.).
- Carrot and beetroot puree: Steam one carrot (peeled and diced) and one beetroot (peeled and diced) until tender. Puree in blender and adjust the texture with boiled, cooled water or your baby’s usual milk.
- Potato and spinach puree: Boil one medium potato in unsalted water until tender. Steam spinach (20g) over the potato in a sieve for the last few minutes of cooking. Drain and mash the potato with a little of your baby’s usual milk. Puree the spinach and add it to the potato. Adjust the texture with boiled water or breast milk.
- Fresh fruit puree: Take a fresh mango and take out the puree and mix some water and sieve out the pulp and serve.
My baby enjoyed all these foods and made her weaning journey smooth. Do follow these tips when you are about to introduce baby food and also try these recipes while weaning a baby.
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