What comes after breast milk?
Breast milk is a complete nutrition package that an infant needs for growth and development at its nascent stage. But, after 6 months, the baby needs certain additional nutrients that breast milk alone cannot provide. Thus, additional foods are to be supplemented to the baby.
Infants grow at a fast rate since all their body parts, senses and characteristics are developing at the same time. Breast feeding can be continued until the child is of two years. But in order to ensure that all the nutritional requirements of the baby are met, additional foods are to be provided.
Food supplements ensure that the baby gets additional protein, energy and minerals. Ensuing is a set of guidelines suggesting the timeline and method of introducing solid food to a baby.
Starting Food Supplements
It is best to start with one food item at a time. For instance, overcooked rice can be mashed into semi-solid form to feed the baby. The quantity is to be increased gradually with 1-2 teaspoons at the start. After 2 to 3 days when the child has adapted to this new form of food intake, another food item can be introduced.
What Food Items Can Be Supplemented
Once the baby gets used to consuming rice, other items such as boiled and mashed green vegetables and leaves can be added to the diet. It is advisable to start one item at a time so that in case of an allergy, it is easy to detect the item causing it.
Gradually, add pulses like dal, beans and green gram. After about 2 weeks of starting additional supplements, a 9-10 month old baby can be fed animal proteins such as chicken breast, egg and fish. It is best to feed the baby freshly prepared food. The food should also contain little or no sugar, salt, and spice.
The baby can also be fed diluted fruit juices or smashed fruits after the completion of 8-9 months. One can also add fruits to the rice mixture. The quantity and variety of fruits administered to the baby is to be increased gradually.
Frequency of meals
Initially, 1-2 meals with breast milk in between should suffice. Gradually, the number of meals can be increased to 3-4 times. The baby is to not to be completely denied breast milk until it is 2 years of age. Also, the baby is not to be taken off breast milk all at once. The frequency and the amount of breast milk are to be decreased gradually.
The baby is also to be breastfed between meals. Present the food to the baby in a pleasant and colorful manner so that the baby readily and happily feeds on it rather than being forced fed.
Take the baby for regular checkups. If the baby’s growth chart is steady and the development milestones are being adequately crossed, it is an indication that the baby has been successfully weaned and has adapted to the supplementary intake.