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Complementary Foods and Weaning Foods
Milk provides all the food a baby needs for at least the first four months of life. As babies gain weight and grow older they need a more varied diet. The change over from milk to more solid food is called weaning. The idea of weaning is the process of gradual introduction to a wide range of ‘non milk’ foods to infants in addition to breast milk. Weaning the baby from breast or bottle feed starts by four months.
Weaning is a transition from breast milk or formula milk to solid foods. It is divided into the following stages:
· STAGE I- Babies are usually ready to start on solid foods between 4-6 months
· STAGE II- 6-9 months
· STAGE III- 9-12 months
Babies cannot chew and the first weaning foods need to be similar in consistency to milk. Cereals such as rice or wheat flours mixed with milk is a suitable first wean-ing food. Food should be the same tem-perature as their usual milk feed. Mashed, pureed, starchy vegetables made to the same consistency are also suitable foods.
e.g.potato, carrot. Foods should be salted or sweetened. Babies should have 600ml of breast or infant formula milk daily along with the weaning foods.
Babies get used to spoon feeding and will take more solid foods. They can begin to have the same foods as the rest of the fam-ily, but in mashed or pureed form. They are able to chew foods at six months, so can be given hard foods to chew. These are called finger foods. These include foods such as raw soft fruits and vegetables, raw strips of carrot, cooked green beans and soft banana. Foods with increased quantity, dif-ferent texture and stronger tastes should be encouraged.
At this stage babies will probably eat solid foods in addition to 500-600ml breast milk or infant formula after nine months. Wide variety foods should be given with a range of textures, because the baby can cope up with food that is lumpier in texture.
· Introduce only one food at a time.
· Allow the infant to become familiar with the food before trying to give another.
· Fruit juice should be fed only by cup not by bottle.
· When the baby is able to chew, gradu-ally substitute finely chopped fruit and vegetables usually at 8 to 9 months.
· Variety in choice of foods is important.
· Infants may object to eat some foods by themselves but will take them willingly if one is mixed with another. Egg may be mixed with formula cereal or vegetable.
· The child can be fed with a spoon until the baby gets used to an adult method of feeding.
· Give freshly prepared food.
· Food should be given between breast feeds.
· The temperature of the food should not be hot or cold.
Foods that are regularly fed to the infant, in addition to breast-milk, providing suf-ficient nutrients are known as supplemen-tary or complementary foods. These could be liquid foods like milk or semi-solid foods in the case of gruels or porridge or solid preparations like rice, which can be given to children over the age of one year.
· Milk: The frequency of breast feeding is reduced to 3 to 4 times a day and cow’s milk is substituted in 6 months. Cow’s milk is diluted with water in the proportion of 2:1 for the first feed. Sugar can be added to increase taste and calories.
· Juice of Fresh Fruits: Small quantities of fresh fruit juices should be given in the 3rd and 4th month of the infant. In early stages fruit juice is diluted with water and only a couple of teaspoons are fed and the amount is gradually increased.
· Soup from Green Leafy Vegeta-bles: Green leafy vegetables can be substituted as an alternative if fruits are not available.
· Mashed Foods: Mashed food should be given around the 7th and 8th month along with the liquid supplements for the infant.
· Cereal and Starchy Gruels: Mashed cereals are rice, wheat and ragi which are usually eaten as porridge with the addition of vegetable oil.
· Vegetables: Cooked, mashed vegeta-bles like potato, green leafy vegeta-bles and carrots can be introduced to get vitamins and minerals in the diet.
· Fruits: Fruits should be stewed and sieved. Sugar and lime can be added for flavor.
· Non Vegetarian Food: Egg yolk is given as good source of protein and it is usually introduced in soft cus-tards. Egg white is not given until the infant is 10 months old, as it causes allergic manifestations. Minced, cooked meat or boiled fish with salt can be given.
· Pulses: Pulses along with cereals in the form of porridge can be given. Pulses and meat preparation can be given alternatively
· Unmashed: When the infant starts developing teeth, it is the time to give lumpy foods, cooked cereals and pulses solids like idly, idiappam, bread, chap-pathi and semi solids like rice and dhal. Vegetables can be chopped and boiled into small pieces. As the child grows, it is better to give fruit segments instead of juice. Fruit provides bulk in the diet and is good for bowel movement.
· Food allergy
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