Aug 1, 2014

Introducing Solids to infants

I felt extremely happy and grateful when one of my friends asked me if I had written a blog post on "Introduction to solids". I'm neither a pediatrician nor a dietitian but I have been sharing my experiences related to child nutrition in the past 2 years. One of my goals is to ensure that every Indian mother has the right information/knowledge about child nutrition and the packaged foods industry wouldn't be able to influence us in the wrong direction. These blogposts are just a fraction of efforts towards that goal.

I started off this series by talking about the importance of breastfeeding your baby in the first six months of his/her life.

This is the second post in this series where I want to talk about how to introduce solids in a phased manner. This is applicable for babies in the 6-8 month range.

"Solids" may not be the appropriate word since you start off with liquids (other than milk) and pureed/mashed foods. For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to them as "baby foods".

How do you know when your baby is ready?
Around the age of 5-6 months, check for the following signs.

  1. Your baby is able to hold her head steadily
  2. She jumps onto you when she sees you eating from your plate
  3. She shows interest in your food

When should you start?
Ideally, after completion of 6 months. But please do check with your pediatrician. If your baby's weight hasn't been increasing steadily, the doctor might ask you to start earlier (around 5 months).

How should you start?
  • Choose a time frame preferably in the morning hours and on a weekday. If your child reacts to any food, it would be easier for you to take her to a doctor.
  • Avoid introducing a new food when your child is extremely hungry OR when your child has just had a milk feed. Choose a time frame between that. Let's say, your child nurses once every 2 hours and had milk at 10 AM. Then 11 - 11:30 AM would be a better time to feed baby foods.
  • Introduce one food at a time. Monitor the reactions for 3 days. 
  • After 15 days, once you see your child is comfortable with certain foods, make the "baby foods' timings into 2 phases - once in the morning and once in the evening. Continue introducing new foods in the morning (remember the 3 day rule). Serve the foods that your child has become comfortable with in the evenings (around 4-5 PM).
Maintain a food log. This is extremely important to track your child's reactions and/or any allergies. I used a spreadsheet in Google Drive and used to update it every night. I religiously followed it until my daughter was a year old.
Note down the following:
  • Date
  • Time
  • Food given
  • Quantity
  • Reaction while eating (did she eat well / spit it out?)
  • Reaction after eating (did she cry in the evening / did she pass stools? / loose stools/constipated?)
  • Other Comments
What should you start?
I started her off with rice gruel water. My daughter's initial reaction was to cry and spit it out. I tried it for 3 consecutive days, same reaction. I felt disappointed and depressed. The only suggestion that came my way was to start her off with Cerelac. I bought a pack and prepared as per instructions. I tasted a little and my reaction was "this tastes like milk payasam and it's so sweet". While I fed it to my daughter, she loved it and ate well. I was happy but very concerned. In the night, she felt uncomfortable and cried a lot. After 2 days, she had loose stools and my pediatrician asked me to stop Cerelac. In retrospect, I'm glad this incident happened or else I might have taken the easy route of feeding her packaged foods on a daily basis. The following days (and nights) were spent reading and noting down home made recipes that would suit her tummy. I had to depend on the Internet to get the "motherly" advice and am glad it didn't disappoint me.

Slowly, I started her off with fruits and vegetable purees. Sharing a few simple recipes below:

Recipes for 6-7 months

Carrot juice:
Wash the carrots. Peel them. Chop into pieces and boil them in pressure cooker for 3 whistles, cool, puree and strain it.
Same procedure for apple / pear juice.

Carrot Puree:
Once she accepts the juice form, try giving the puree without straining. Ensure it's really smooth and doesn't have any lumps.
Follow the same procedure for potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Banana Puree:
Chop banana and puree them in a mixer into a smooth puree. You can add some water if required.
Same procedure for muskmelon.

Rice porridge (kanji):
Clean the rice for 3-4 times. Drain the water, spread it on a plate and dry it under fan for 2 hours.
Powder this rice in a mixer finely
Store this powder in a air-tight container and keep it in the fridge. Can use upto a week.
While preparing kanji, take a tsp of this rice powder in a bowl.
Add 1/4 cup of water and mix well.
Boil this mixture till it thickens and the rice powder is well cooked.
It has to be runny and in liquid form.

If your baby drinks formula milk, you can add a few drops of it to the prepared porridge. If not, you can add few drops of breast milk.

No need to add salt or sugar. Doctors advise that sugar must be avoided until 1 year of age. Salt can be introduced in very little quantities after 8-9 months.

Recipes for 7-8 months

Yellow pumpkin / Beans / Peas puree:
same procedure as given above for carrot puree.

Mango puree:
Peel and cut the ripe mango into cubes. Puree and serve.

Moong dal water:
Cook yellow moong dal for 4-5 whistles in a pressure cooker.
Strain and give the dal water
Once adjusted to the taste of dal water, puree the dal and give

Simple kichdi:
Cook 2 tsp of rice and 1 tsp of moong dal in a pressure cooker for 4 whistles.
Let it cool.
Puree and serve with a drop of ghee.

Veg kichdi:
Cook 2 tsp of rice, 1 tsp of moong dal, a few pieces of carrots+potatoes+beans in a pressure cooker for 4 whistles.
Let it cool.
Puree and serve with a drop of ghee.

Mixed veg soup:
Pressure cook 1 baby potato, 1/2 carrot, 2-3 beans for 4 whistles.
Let it cool.
Puree and give.

Ragi malt:
Clean ragi grains, soak overnight.
Place the soaked ragi in a casserole or a sprouts maker.
The grains will sprout in 2 days.
Dry roast the ragi sprouts in a thick bottomed vessel in medium flame. Make sure it doesn't get burnt.
Once it's roasted well, it gives a nice aroma.
Let it cool.
Powder it in mixer.
Store this powder in a air-tight container and keep it in the fridge. Can use upto 2 weeks.

While preparing kanji, take a tsp of this ragi powder in a bowl.
Add 1/4 cup of water and mix well.
Boil this mixture till it thickens and the ragi powder is well cooked.
It has to be runny and in liquid form.

If your baby drinks formula milk, you can add a few drops of it to the prepared porridge. If not, you can add few drops of breast milk.

Idli soaked in dal water / apple puree:
Mash idli nicely and then add dal water / apple puree to make it a little gooey.

As you notice the recipes above, these are extremely simple, easy and quick to prepare. Just a little planning can ensure your child eats safe, home-cooked food that's healthy and nutritious.
 
Backup option
When we were traveling for a short distance or when my daughter wasn't eating much during the day, I used to give her Nestum plain rice cereal. Compared to Cerelac, I found this to be very mild, less sweet and doesn't taste artificial.

Hope these pointers were helpful. Please do share any other ideas/recipes/questions/comments below.

In the third post of this series, I will talk about introducing spices, textures and how to eventually transition your child to regular foods by the time he/she turns one.

1 comments:

Basil said...

Thanks for getting be back on track as my will power to stick to Non packaged food was just about to go. Thanks for the tips and ideas too.

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