Food supplements for baby
For the first 3-4 months, motherís milk is enough. In case if the mother is not able to breast-feed her baby successfully, she can put him on a combination of breast and bottle milk. Most of the mothers delay the inclusion of semi-solids considerably and keep feeding only milk to the baby. Babies become anaemic, if they are fed only milk as they are iron deficient. If the semi-solids are delayed beyond 3-4 months, the baby becomes fussy about taking them. It is good to get him used to different tastes and different consistencies as early as possible. Babies fed on milk alone get very constipated. The baby can be fed perfectly well on several other foods, so that the quantity of milk can be reduced gradually.
By 3-4 months of age, you can try out something different like mashed fruit or cereal. Some babies take to solid easily and happily, while others are resist new tastes. Whatever you do, do not start battling with your baby. Semi-solids should be given when you have time and are not in a hurry.
The baby may lap up one thing one week and not look at it the next. He too can get bored with a food, just like we all do. So try your ingenuity and give him something different.
Food supplements for babies of different ages
From 3 to 4 months
We can start with a fruit like banana, which is available throughout the year and also it does not.need cooking. Mash 1-2 teaspoonfuls in a clean bowl with a clean spoon and feed a little at a time. Let the baby taste it and enjoy it. Gradually increase the quantity, till at the end of 2-3 weeks he is able to eat a whole banana. Other fruits such as papaya, mango, stewed apple and so on can also be given. The fruits which contain fibre should be sieved. The baby should take about half a cup of any of these fruits.
After started giving fruits, cereals can be started. Almost any cereal can be used. Initially, it should be well mashed and not lumpy. The quantity of the cereal should also be increased gradually to about half a cup. If the fruit was being given along with the morning feed, the cereal can be given in the afternoon or in the evening.
From 5 to 6 months
At this age, a variety of foods can be started. Mashed vegetables, egg and so on. Start one at a time. All seasonal vegetables, except those with a sharp taste (like radish and turnip) can be given. First the vegetables should be boiled or steamed, and then mashed in the water in which they have been cooked. Excess water should not be thrown away. They should be sieved. A pinch of salt and a little butter can be added.
Around this time you can start egg. Start with a spoon of the yolk of a half-boiled or full-boiled egg, gradually increasing the quantity of yolk, and then add the white portion also. This precaution is taken because some babies are allergic to egg white. If the baby develops a rash, cries as if he has abdominal pain, vomits or just turns pale; stop the egg at once. This is not a common occurrence, but it is good to be careful about it.
From 7 to 8 months
At this age, the baby can have a solid with each breast or bottle feed. Obviously he will take less milk than he has been used to. He will probably not even want so many feeds, and may be quite happy with just 4 feeds a day, breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner.
Several household foods can now be tried, such as rice, curd; cheese, and in South Indian homes foods like idli, dosa, upma and so on. Fruits like apples or apriots can be fed without tooking. The food need no longer be mashed very fine, and sieving can also be stopped. He also wants to eat himself, and you should encourage him to do so.
From 9 to 12 months
You can introduce fish or minced meat, if you are a non-vegetarian. By one year of age the baby is eating almost everything that is cooked in the house, and no special cooking is necessary.
Amount of milk
Most babies wont eat much. It is usually due to the fact that the baby is having 8 oz. (200-225 nils.) of milk 4-5 times a day. This, of course, is sufficient to supply him with all the calories or energy he need. It is important, therefore, to gradually keep reducing the amount of milk as the quantity of solids increases A 1-year-old child does not need more than half a litre of milk a day.
Diet during second year
Now the childís growth is not so fast, as in the first year, and so the food requirements do not increase much and are almost the same as in the first year, about 1000 calories. The baby can now try a variety of foods, like sweets, ice-cream, nuts, roasted gram,, popcorn, wafers and other household snacks. Be sure not to give these just before a meal. Avoid food not cooked at home as far as possible. Do not give the baby water from outside the home, unless you are sure it is safe. The soups can also be introduced.
You must remember that just as no two healthy adults eat the same amount, babies also differ widely as to their food requirements. As long as the baby is happy and growing you should not worry. It should be remembered that there are no set rules about feeding. It is a commonsense matter. Like grown-ups, babies too like a particular food more than another, and are more hungry on some days than on others. Forced feeding should be avoided.