Feeding babies is equally exciting and daunting. Mothers often face several challenges when it comes up feeding their little ones. So I’ve jotted down a few points which I hope you find useful.
Once the baby reaches the 6th month mark, you get a green signal from the paediatrician to start with complimentary feeding, because now, milk alone is not sufficient to meet his growing requirements. But is it just the age that determines if he’s ready for it or should we be looking for more signs? Yes, you’ll have to tick-all-the-boxes before you put that first morsel in his tiny mouth.
(Being a nutritionist and a mom-blogger, I often get many requests to share about child nutrition and also few insights on complimentary feeding; so here’s my quick attempt at it for you)
1. What are the signs you should be looking for which indicate that your baby is developmentally prepared for solids?
- Can sit without support
- Has started to develop pincer grasp, which means he can hold things between his thumb and forefinger (first finger)
- Has lost tongue thrust, which means he won’t push out solids from his mouth when given
- Shows interest in food and is willing to chew
- Suddenly has an increased demand to breastfeed- an indication of increased appetite. (Not a clear indicator though since teething, growth spurt, cold etc. can also show the same consequence)
2. Getting the equipments ready
The list is endless, but if I had to mention a few essentials, they would be: a high chair or a booster seat, bibs, sipper cup, small spoon that can be preloaded and given and a plate with some depth.
3. How to feed?
I opted for ‘combination’ method- i.e. a mix of Traditional feeding and Baby Led Weaning (there’s a complete article on why I chose this. You can check the article on my website).
4. How to practise this method?
Step1: Make the baby sit on the booster seat/high chair
Step 2: Place the BLW food (ideas are mentioned below)
Step 3: Allow the baby to pick up the food, explore, inspect and eat on his own. Keep supervising.
Step 4: There’ll be a lot of mess and to be honest, there’ll be more food on the floor than inside the mouth, which is absolutely normal
Step 5: Get to traditional feeding- ie. spoon feeding to fill the nutritional gap
5. Points to remember
- Never force feed
- Don’t try variety of foods at once. Let the baby understand the taste of each food. Variety often confuses them
- Follow the baby’s cues. If he is not showing interest in food, it simply means he is full and doesn’t want more. Especially while following BLW, you can wait for 10 mins and if he’s not picking up anything to eat, you can try another time
- Avoid salt and sugar until 1 year of age. Their kidneys are not very developed and it’s better to keep it easier for them to function well. Children don’t need salt for taste. Essentially, at this age, it’s important for them to understand the unique flavour of each food item.
- By the time the baby is 1 year old, h age should be able to eat from the same plate as yours- with all the seasonings and spices like you do.
6. Quantity and the number of times you need to feed
- Initially, the baby might just take a spoonful a day, which is again very normal. Gradually, his appetite will increase and it’ll be evident from his intake
- Still, I’ve jotted down the number of feeds a child requires at different ages. Also, each child is different and so is his eating pattern. He might eat a little more than mentioned, which is alright too:
- 6-7 months: 1-2 solid feeds a day
- 8-9 monts: 2-3 solid feeds a day
- 9 months to 1 year: 3-4 solid feeds a day
7. What to feed?
I knew you were waiting for this! So here we go! I’ve listed a few ideas that I’ve been trying and obviously you can get experimental and try many more.
At this stage, there are two things to remember. One, give simple (and healthy, ofcourse) carbs that are easy to digest and two, don’t give a variety. Infact, you can repeat the same food for three days and then try something else. This will also help in ruling out allergies, if any. Note: you don’t have to give Dal water or rice water like it was a norm earlier- all the nutrients are lost in the process and there’s barely anything that the baby gets from it.
- Stewed Apple
- Stewed pear
- Boiled potatoes
- Boiled sweet potatoes
- Stewed carrot
- Stewed pumpkin
Traditional feeding ideas:
- Ragi porridge
- Tomato and beetroot purée
- Dal boiled and blended
- Muskmelon juice
- Puréed potato
At this age, it’s best to give a combination of foods and also help the baby hold the spoon and feed herself.
- Idli pieces
- All seasonal fruits
- Mildly seasoned kebabs/tikkis like mashed corn and potato kebab, spinach, potato and mashed peas kebab etc
- Chapatti/ Aloo or cauliflower paratha
- Steamed veggies
- Boiled egg yolk
- Khichadi with curd
- Mixed pulses dal with rice
- Curd with chapati
- Ragi porridge with a combination of fruits
- Mixed fruit smoothies
- Spinach/fenugreek dal
- Mashed potatoes and veggies with rice
- Scrambled egg yolk
By this age, the child can start to eat pretty much everything that adults do. There should ideally be less of spoon feeding and more of BLW at this age. Some ideas are:
- Pancakes, dosas and chillas
- Stuffed Parathas with curd
- Regular gravies with rice
- Noodle soup
These are some ideas I could think of. You can always follow what’s given culturally. Just make sure to avoid a few food items like:
- Salt and sugar
- Egg white
- Dry fruits
- Raw veggies
- Undercooked non-vegetarian foods
- Foods that can cause chocking like popcorn, large chunks of soya etc
- Sweets, chips and other junk items
Hope this was helpful!
So comment below if this article helped you and share with your friends who might need. Also, if you’ve got more ideas and inputs, feel free to share below.
Elina Dawoodani Wadia
Nutritionist and Lifestyle Coach