WEANING AND SUPPLEMENTARY FOODS
Weaning is the process of gradually introducing foods other than breast
milk in the child's feeding schedule. The foods that are introduced in addition
to breast milk are called supplementary foods. Introducing supplementary foods
not only ensures the fulfillment of nutrient needs of the infant (which cannot
be met by breast milk alone after 6 months) but also introduces the child
gradually to the family eating pattern.
nutrient density of the weaning foods should be 0.25k.cal to 0.4k.cal/g. Hence
calorie dense foods should be given. Weaning food should provide atleast 10
percent of energy as protein.
Types of supplementary foods
I. Liquid supplements
Initially milk can be given diluted with water in the ratio of 3:1, then
the amount of water can be gradually reduced so that the infant consumes
undiluted milk within a few weeks.
2. Fruit juices:
Fresh juices of tomato, grapes, oranges and sweet lime can be given.
When this is introduced between 4-6 months a teaspoon of it can be diluted with
little water and given. Gradually the quantity can be increased and undiluted
juices (85ml of orange juice) can be given.
Soups of green leafy vegetables can be given. The leafy vegetable is
washed well with water and prepared in the form of soup by boiling it with a
minimal amount of water and a little salt and onion. First the soups may be
strained and later on unstrained soups can be given.
II. Semi solid supplements
Semi solid supplements may be given at 5 - 6
months. The first solid food commonly offered is a cereal or a starchy
vegetable like potato, well cooked and mashed. In case of cereals small
quantities of milk and sugar are added. Calorie dense foods can be prepared by
using malted wheat or ragi.
Cooked mashed vegetables like potatoes, carrots, green leafy vegetables
can be introduced starting with small quantities, which supply vitamins and add
colour to the diet.
should be mashed and steamed except for banana until one year after which
fruits can only be stewed.
Yolk of egg can be given at 6-7 months. Half a teaspoon of yolk can be
started with and if tolerated, gradually increased to one yolk. Yolk can also
be introduced as soft custard. Egg white because of its allergic manifestation
is given only after 10 months. Thereafter whole egg can be given as poached or
Ground and cooked meat, boiled fish may be given with little flavouring
Pulses well cooked along with the cereals as kichidi or pongal can be
given or can be made into porridge. Pulse and meat preparations can be given on
alternate days, so that the baby receives each of them 3 or 4 times a week.
III. Solid supplements
When the baby starts cutting teeth solid supplements are given. Cooked
cereals, pulses and vegetables can be given. Solids like idli, chappathi, rice
and dhal can be given after the child gets used to semisolids. Meat may be
minced fine instead of ground.
Vegetables chopped and boiled, leafy vegetables, soft and boiled raw
carrots and fruit segments without skin and seeds can be given. When fed with
solid supplements, plenty of water should be given to the child. Small amount
of boiled, cooled water has to be given 2 to 3 times a day and more often
during hot weather.
below. presents the quantity of different foods to be included in the diet of
6-12 months old infant. Care should be taken in preparing the foods in a
special way according to the age of the infant.
Diet for Infants (6-12 months)
S.No. Food groups
Cereals and millets : 45
Pulses : 15
Milk (ml) : 500*
Roots and tubers : 50
Green leafy vegetables : 25
Other vegetables : 25
Fruits : 100
Sugar : 25
Fats/oils (visible) : 10
* Quantity indicates milk apart from breast milk. For breast fed infants
200 ml is required.
Source : Dietary Guidelines for Indians - A manual,
of Nutrition, ICMR, Hyderabad, India, 1999.
Points to be considered in Weaning
Only one food should be introduced at a time.
Small quantities of food should be given at the
beginning and the amount gradually increased as he develops a liking for it.
The child should never be fed by force. If the
child shows dislike for a particular food, it should be removed from the diet
and tried again after a week or two. If the dislike persists the food can be
replaced by a substitute.
Food given should not be spicy. Fried foods
should also be avoided.
Variety in child's diet is important to make it
more appealing. As soon as the baby accepts a particular food well the next one
may be started so that in time he / she learns to accept a good variety of
foods. As the child grows the colour, flavour, texture and shape of food should
be given special consideration so as to attract the child's attention.
To inculcate good eating habits and to encourage the child to eat all
types of food, the parents should not show any personal dislike towards any
Low cost weaning foods
Several low cost weaning foods have been developed by the Institutes
like Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore, National
Institute of Nutrition (NIN) Hyderabad, Avinashilingam Deemed university (ADU),
Coimbatore and Gandhigram Rural Institute. Indian multi purpose food, malt
food, Balahar, Kuzhandhai Amudhu, win feed are a few of them. They are very
nutritious and can be easily prepared at home. Table 3.5 gives a list of low
cost supplementary foods with their composition.