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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.
The 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.
Fruits 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 soft boiled.
Ground and cooked meat, boiled fish may be given with little flavouring and salt.
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.
List 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.
Balanced Diet for Infants (6-12 months)
S.No. Food groups quantity (gm)
1. Cereals and millets : 45
2. Pulses : 15
3. Milk (ml) : 500*
4. Roots and tubers : 50
5. Green leafy vegetables : 25
6. Other vegetables : 25
7. Fruits : 100
8. Sugar : 25
9. 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, National Institute of Nutrition, ICMR, Hyderabad, India, 1999.
Points to be considered in Weaning
1. Only one food should be introduced at a time.
2. Small quantities of food should be given at the beginning and the amount gradually increased as he develops a liking for it.
3. 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.
4. Food given should not be spicy. Fried foods should also be avoided.
5. 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 food.
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.
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