My baby's first food. When, what & how much?


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When do I start?

  • Your pediatrician will help you take that decision; usually it is six months onwards

  • Introduce new foods during daytime i.e. morning or early afternoon to observe for allergies

  • Introducing foods in the evening are fraught with the risk of baby developing colic late in the evening giving you sleepless nights

  • Baby should be rested and alert

  • Baby should not be too hungry, then they tend to be irritable and more likely to refuse new foods

  • At the same time if the baby is too full,immediately after a good breastfeed, they may not be interested in trying out a new food

  • Also avoid timings too close to sleep times,again the babies typically look to breastfeeding when sleepy and may be cranky and would resist solids

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What do I start with?

All over the world, the first food often varies according to the locally available foods,dietary preferences, and traditions. So naturally ,when you are faced with this question, there is not going to be a simple single answer. Do not fret, do listen to the various advices you get from your peers and relatives but most important, listen to your baby's body language. There is not one food which you need to start with but just follow some simple principles.
  • Give age appropriate foods

  • Start with a single food type at a time

  • Small quantity at first and then gradually increase

  • Continue to give that food item till about 5-7 days atleast not less than 4 days

  • Gradually add one more food type and build up on quantity as tolerated

  • Once major food items are tolerated, can start with complex foods or food combinations

  • No salt or sugar to be added to the baby food

  • Mild spices maybe added after 9 months or so

  • Give freshly prepared foods, avoid processed foods and refined flours

StartFragmentREMEMBER THE SOLIDS INTAKE IN THE INITIAL FEW MONTHS MAY NOT BE ENOUGH TO TAKE CARE OF THE TOTAL ENERGY INTAKE AND BREASTFEEDING STILL HAS A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION IN YOUR BABY’S NUTRITIONEndFragment
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What to give as the first food?

HOME COOKED FRESH NUTRITIOUS FOODS ARE THE FIRST CHOICE.

Contrary to popular belief, the babies do not need to be given watery foods like dal water or rice water as a weaning food.Also diluted cow or buffalo milk is an absolute no-no. There are few options:

CEREALS

Traditionally in India CEREALS, especially Rice is the commonest first food . Why cereals?

  • Rice is one of our Indian staple diet

  • Easily available and easy to prepare

  • Starch based so gives a fullness and satiety

  • Easy to digest

​One can overcook rice and mash it with water or expressed milk or small amounts of pre-washed and dried rice can be grinded to make a dry powder and can be cooked into a gruel.

If time constraints or travelling-one may take ready to use rice cereal and mix with boiled and cooled water or breastmilk.

Other common food to start with is oatmeal, cooked with water to form a gruel /porridge and breastmilk may be added to it.

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FRUITS

Ripe banana or boiled apples/pears may be an option too. Banana is a naturally sweet and soft solid and it is a myth that banana is a “cold” food so may cause cold cough in the baby.

Apples and pears contain fiber hence better to start with boiled version initially.

Other seasonal fruits like papaya,etc may also be given. The natural sweetness of the fruits make it a readily acceptable food for the baby.

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How to give?

  • Follow strict hygiene measures while preparing baby’s food

  • Use a clean and sterile utensil to prepare the baby’s food.It may be stainless steel or glass. Avoid plastics as much as possible,especially for hot foods.Preferably use separate vessels for the baby’s use

  • Water for cooking should be boiled and cooled

  • Food should be freshly prepared

  • Seat the baby in your lap initially or seat upright in a chair

  • Keep a few napkins/soft cloths handy. Use bibs to avoid soiling of clothes

  • Offer a small quantity,i.e. you may just dip the spoon and apply near the lips for her to taste. The spoon should be soft /pliable type,not cold/hard metallic;should not hurt the sensitive gums of the baby

  • You may even use your clean finger dipped in the food to allow the baby to lick it

  • Some mothers give the baby food chewed and mashed by themselves. However it is not at all advisable as it may carry germs from your mouth to the baby

  • This is just to introduce the baby to the taste and texture

  • The food should not be too cold or too hot,babies are used to breastmilk which is lukewarm(36-37celsius). So better acceptable if at the right temperature

  • Have patience, your baby may refuse or spit out the initial few times. It may take 10-15 tries to get your baby to accept the solids initially do not get upset and do not force!

  • Keep interacting with your baby during the feeding times

"Having food should be an enjoyable experience for your baby and not a struggle. Developing this equation is very important for good weaning"EndFragment

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How much to give?
  • Start small and slow

  • It may start with just a few licks and graduate to a few spoons once a day

  • Baby’s tummies are small and they feel full easily. About 2-3 tablespoons is all they make take initially at a single go. The tummy size is approximately equal to your baby’s fist size

  • Breastfeeding will still be the predominant source of nutrition and do not compromise on that

  • Increase the frequency to twice a day and then gradually upto thrice a day

LOOK FOR CUES TO STOP !!

If your baby turns away her head when you offer her the spoon or closes the mouth or pushes away the spoon-she may be full. Do not ignore the signals and do not give in to temptation of feeding just one more bite!!

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LET YOUR BABY’S APPETITE DICTATE THE AMOUNT THEY WANTS TO EAT

Disclaimer : "This handout is made on standard medical guidelines and is purely informative. Not to be used for treatment."

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