Introducing Solid Foods in Babies
It is recommended to exclusively breast feed for at least 6 months. If the mother’s milk is inadequate or there are other indications, it is safe to start introducing solid food at the 4th month as well. It is better to introduce solid food than start on formula milk for the baby after 4 months.
It is better if the introduction is gradual. Keep in mind that grains are the most difficult to digest for babies.
The salivary enzyme called Amylase doesn’t form till after the baby is 6-7 months of age and the activity of that enzyme reaches the optimal level only around 12-14 months. Introducing grains and starchy food before this age leads to lot of gas formation and colic in the baby.
The first taste that the baby develops is sweet because breast-milk is sweet (due to milk sugar or lactose). So the initial foods should be on the sweeter side naturally without any added sugar.
Here are some general guidelines to introducing solids:
Start with vegetable or fruit puree. For the puree, steam the vegetable/ fruit and blend it well to make a fine paste. Steaming helps to retain most of the nutrition. Vegetables like carrot, pumpkin and fruits like apple or banana are a good start.
Try one puree for at least 3-4 days to make sure the system has adjusted to it.
After 3-4 days, add the second vegetable/ fruit to the first one and make a combined puree. Repeat the same procedure so by the end of 2 months the baby is used to a variety of tastes.
To begin with, introduce solid food once a day for a week, then make it twice and then thrice in a day.
Do not force-feed and start with small quantities. Always top up food with breast-milk to make sure your supply is maintained.
You can introduce mashed daal (lentils) along with the vegetables after 7-8 months. Start with yellow mung daal because it is easiest to digest.
Introduce rice (or other grains) after 9 months.
Every baby is different and these general guidelines will be tweaked as per requirement.
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