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Feeding your baby is a bonding experience for both you and your baby. Your baby’s development and growth is more critical during their first year, and therefore, it is important to give them a healthy diet at the proper time, starting with breast milk, till your baby turns four to six months old. The protein content in breast milk is ideally suited for the infant’s delicate metabolism and its fat is easy to digest. Antibodies in the milk provide immunity against infections and allergies. It contains vitamin A and E, and iron which helps protect the newborn against anaemia.

All the stages of good nutrition starting from breast milk and slowly moving onto solid food are considered crucial in setting up the best start to life. In order to improve your child’s nutrition, the basic guidelines enlisted below will go a long way.

Diet recommendations:

  • Up to the age of four to six months, breast milk will constitute all that the baby needs.
  • Solid food should not be started before four months of age, because till then the baby’s delicate system is not prepared to digest the proteins derived from solids. Moreover, their kidneys, too, are not developed enough to handle the electrolytes present in solid food.
  • Between ages six to eight months, introduce solid food into your child’s life. You can start with homemade soft khichdi, followed by a small quantity of fruit juices (1/4 cup), vegetable soups, mashed potato, dal soups, stewed apple, mashed avocado, mashed boiled sweet potato, red pumpkin soup, stewed beetroot and ragi porridge in small quantities. Introduce one new food at a time in your baby’s diet, for three to five days. By doing this, you can be certain that your baby is able to tolerate the given food and also look for any allergic reactions that they may develop.
  • At eight months you may include soft idlis, rawa upma, vegetable khichdi, oats porridge, palak with moong dal etc.
  • The introduction of chicken and eggs should be made only after the baby is nine months old.
  • By the time your baby is a year old, they will be all set to join you at dinner.
  • When preparing homemade food for your baby, do not use salt or sugar. If they must be used, it must be done sparingly.
  • Introduce food from all the food groups, so that your baby gets all the recommended nutrients needed for optimum growth.
  • Fats and cholesterol are crucial for the development of your child’s brain and nervous system, along with aiding in their general growth. Therefore, unless specified by your child’s health care professional, do not limit fat and cholesterol in their diet.
  • Plan your baby’s food every morning, just the way you would plan anything important in your life. Discuss with your paediatrician the finer details. This will help you keep your baby’s body healthy and free from illness.

(As published in Hindustan Times dated January 13, 2020)

January 13, 2020

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