First six months only breast milk
- After the delivery, a healthy child should be given only breast milk for 6 months. The breast milk provides all the nutrients required by the child for 6 months. If the child has had only breast milk then that child has incomparable IQ and immunity. The child who has been given only breast milk for first 6 months have minimum problems of breathing or intestines in comparison to the child who has been given breast milk for first 4 months and then from fifth month other food items. It is the duty of the doctor and the family members to encourage mother to only give breast milk for first 6 months.
- After 6 months it is utmost necessary to start giving other food items to the child. This process is called weaning and the breast milk given along with the food items is called complementary feeding.
- For the first six months the child only knows how to suck. After 6 months the child learns to chew and swallow food. Now the child does not take out the food from the mouth that often. When the child is almost 8 to 9 months old, he or she learns to clean the spoon with the lips. The food taken with the tongue is also chewed well.
- Thus, in 6th month liquids, in the 7th month semi solid and in the 8th month solid food. [The one which does not fall off the spoon] can be given.
What should be given in the food and how it should be?
- In the beginning the child can be given vegetable soup or juice.
- It is not compulsory to give only liquid food items to the child in the seventh month. Only liquids like water of pulses, rice or moong or juices or vegetable soups cannot fulfil the child’s hunger or calorie requirement.
- From 7th month the child should be given semi-solid, smashed, crushed food itmes like porridge, thick rice water, ragi, porridge of wheat, thick boiled pulses, boiled sweet potatoes, boiled potatoes.Mother can mix the two different pulses, rice and moong, and crush it into powder, add some water, milk, ghee or even mother’s milk.
- In the 9th or 10th give all soft fruits like banana, chikoo, apple, mango, papaya, smashed daal rice, khichdi, roti made soft by dipping in daal, boiled eggs, moraiya and sweet daalporridge.
- The food should be soft and such that the child can swallow it easily and it should not be too much fibrous.
- If it’s possible then give only homemade food items which are fresh, soft and light.
What can be added in the food?
- Mother’s milk can be added to all the food items.
- Good and delicious dishes can be prepared from the things available at home.
- The above stated food items can be made more delicious by adding sugar, honey, lemon, salt etc.
- Oil and ghee not only provides calories to the child but also helps in the digestion process.
- It is a myth that sugar, salt and jiggery cannot be given to children who are less than one year old. They are necessary for varied and different tastes. Sugar and jiggery added later on after the dish is prepared provides lots of energy to the child.
The milk powder tins:
- The kids who are born with less weight and have difficulty in sucking and swallowing should be given appropriate milk made out of milk powder but that also after consulting the paediatrician.
- The expense done on the milk powder tins for the child is much more in comparison to the expense made in food like milk, fruits and vegetables for the mother.
- It is very easy to get the tins from the market when the kids are 6 to 9 months old but after that the kids do not learn to eat homemade food. Because the soft and semi-solid food of tins reduce their chewing capacity. Hence try and see that the outside food from the market is not brought in the house.
- The outside food tins are quite expensive[if the price of one of 400 grams is 400 rs. then for a child of six months the child needs 400 grams of powder every day. In today’s inflation in 100 rupees, the daily expense of fruits, vegetables and pulses of a family of four members can be met with 200 rupees]
- There cannot be variety in the readymade food items available in the market in comparison with the homemade food. Once the child starts adoring the tin food, he or she doesn’t like to food that has to be properly chewed.
- The companies of various milk products give the false information to the parents. For instance they advertise that their product is a substitute of mother’s milk. But in reality there is no substitute of mother’s milk in the whole world and not any product of any company can provide the nutrients present in the mother’s milk.
- On the tin of the food items, it is printed that it should be started once the child is four months old. But the organisations like WHO & UNICEF have stated that for first six months only mother’s milk should be given.
- On the container the photo of a healthy baby is shown, as if the child has become healthy after eating their tin powder. In reality mother’s milk is a complete diet for the growth and development of the child. After 6 months also, the child should be given homemade food only.
- The companies also teach that newer recipes can be made by adding homemade things to the market tin products. These companies never talk about the mental growth of the child. After looking at these false advertisements, the poor and uneducated class of India also get carried away and buy this cereal powder worth rs. 400. This is really sad.
- After six months the child should always be given fresh and homemade food rather than powdered readymade food which is not at all fresh.
- The powdered food products are based on milk which cannot be complete diet for the child. The nutrients which are provided by the porridge, different pulses and soft fresh fruits will never be obtained from those powdered market stuff.
Milk with bottle:
- It is a myth that after completion of six months of the child, along with the breast milk other food items are given to the child, the milk should be definitely given with the bottle to the child, only then the child would be satisfied.
- It becomes difficult for the child to chew food if the child is habituated to use milk with bottle. Hence, they drink more milk rather than having other food items. Even at times, mother also starts giving soups and juices through bottle which is absolutely wrong.
- Kids who have habit of drinking with bottle, leave breast feeding at very early age or in few months. They fall sick very often and also become cranky.
Do this much:
- From seventh or eighth month, include semi-solid food items twice or thrice in a day.
- Liquids like juice, soup, apple juice, water of boiled pulses and cereals can be given twice or thrice.
- Drops of iron, Vitamin D and Vitamin A should be given after consulting the paediatrician.
- The extra food must be started after the completion of six month.
- Even after starting other food items, mother should continue breast feeding the child.
- Feeding should be continued till the child is 20 to 24 months old.
- While giving other food items, mother should have lot of patience. Sometimes if the child brings out food from the mouth it doesn’t mean that the child does not like the food.
- Make the child sit for having food along with the siblings or elderly persons. This will help to encourage the child to have food.
- The child should be given food if he or she is active or wide awake. If it is the sleeping time of the baby or he or she is tired, then the baby will be cranky and won’t eat even though he or she is hungry.
- If the child is unwell, it won’t food in good quantity. More variety should be brought in the food. The person who is feeding food to the child should keep lot of patience. If the child eats less, then increase the amount of liquids and breast milk.
- The vegetables should be cleaned properly and then should be added to the soup or should be smashed or boiled. Iron content is more in vegetables.
- The vessels in which the baby’s food is cooked should be cleaned properly. The food should be fresh and it should have good consistency.
- Child’s plate, bowl, dish should be separate so that how much the baby has eaten can be easily known and also the baby gets the encouragement of eating food on its own.
- From 6 months to 9 months give only one type of food at a time. From 9 months to 12 months give two different food items at a time and after 15 months if three different food items are served to the child, then he or she will enjoy having the meal.
- If the food is prepared with different types of cereals and pulses then it has loads of proteins and vitamins in them.
- While feeding the baby be playful and jovial with child. Sing songs, make cute noises, call the baby with nicknames, show different pictures or make sounds with toys. In these conditions, children love to have meal. The child also comes to know that the person who is feeding him is very affectionate and also loves him.
Do not do this:
- During this time period, avoid the use of bottles and biscuits.
- The food other than breast milk should not be started before six months and not to late also [ if it is started too late then the child will develop deficiency]
- From 7th or 8th month do not start using spices chilli in the food.
- Do not make the above mentioned food items too much of liquid type. Because then calories will be reduced.
- The child should not be given tea, coffee or soda.
- Don’t get too much dependent on the tins, packets or jar of readymade food items available in the market. Because if you use that too often the child will not like homemade food and mothers also get habituated in buying the readymade stuff from the market. Also these food packets are bit expensive. It’s not that what is printed on the food packs is cent per cent correct. They print natural, no preservatives and no food colours. But this might be false information also.
- The expensive fruits do not give more energy than proteins. The fruits definitely contain Vitamin D, Vitamin A and other nutrients but keep in mind that the child also has wheat, rice, and millet in appropriate quantity.
- Never feed the baby forcefully or by manipulating or just dumping in the mouth. If the child does not want to have it, just leave it. The child will have little later. If the child is not enjoying or having a particular food item then leave it for couple of days. After few days mix it with some other food item and try again, he or she may relish it. And after that also he or she doesn’t have that just leave it, but never feed it forcefully.
- If the child is forced, he or she may have it. But child will develop dislike or fear while having food.[ the child should feel happy while having the meal]. Mother should have positive expressions on her face and should say, come on open your and who will have? Or something similar to that. Even after all that the child does not show readiness then just leave it and do not force the child at all.
- The child who is unwell will eat less. Do not force the child at all. Once the child feels little better from illness, the child will surely have it. At times the mother feels that the child should have at least some food and thinking that she forces the child to have food but on the contrary the child will start vomiting it out.
- If any child is allergic to any particular food item or does not suit the child, then mother should leave that food. some mother tell that when my elder son used to have banana nothing happened but if the younger one has it he gets cold and develops allergy on the skin. This is because every human being’s metabolism is different.
Some important facts to know
- When the child is six months old, the size of the stomach is such that it can hold 150 to 200 ml food.
- It is a wrong belief that only liquids can digest fast.
- The consistency and quantity of the food should be gradually increased.
- Always give boiled and filtered water.
- At times the child may cry if he or she is thirsty and at times the child will cry while having meal. The child will stop crying if little water is given between the meals and will start eating again.
- Water should not replace meal or breast milk. Even if you give water, give it in the end after the meal is over. It should not happen that the child has so much water that there is no room for meal.
- The quantity of food of one and a half year or two year old kid is half than that of his or her mother’s food quantity.
- After one year of age, the child’s food should have almost 50 grams of vegetable in the meal. Then only the daily requirement of vitamins, iron and fibre will be met. The child who is 6 to 8 months old should have 800 to 900 calories every day. Out of this 2/3rd of the calories that is 500 to 600 [5 to 6 times in every 24 hours] is derived from the breast milk.
- When the child is six months old the digestive system gets efficient in digesting various food items. After 6 months, if food other than milk is given then the chances of breathing trouble or intestinal infections will be negligible.
- Do remember that even if the child is given food and he or she starts walking, there is absolutely no need to stop breast feeding. Breast milk can be given till the child is 2 or even after that. Actually it should be given by the mother till 24 months or even more[only 20% of mother continue breast feeding after 9 months.
- Those kids who eat only homemade food between 6 to 9 months then in later age[2 to 3 years] they learn to eat homemade dishes fast. After 9 months, when nothing is specially made for the kid and if the kid has to be fed from the same stuff that is made for other members of the family then take care about the taste and consistency of food.
The outside milk:
- Between 6 to 9 months in khichdi and porridge less fat milk can be added
- If you want to give milk, then outside milk should be given after 9 months. If it is started before that there might be chances of allergy, cough or diarrhoea.
- It is completely false that always give more and more quantity of outside milk. Milk is a good source of calcium but there is not sufficient iron in it.
- If there is heredity of allergy and asthma in the family then start the outside milk little late.
- Milk should be of low fat and properly boiled but do not add water in it. Sugar can be added in the milk and should be given with spoon and bowl.
- Between 6 to 9 months, little water taken out from buttermilk or curd can be given.
- When the child is 6 months to 2 years of age and whose mother feeds homemade food, then she becomes efficient in making various snacks and dishes at home. But kids whose age is 6 months to 2 years and are fed with bottle and are given readymade food from market then these kids start eating more outside food like chips, snacks, wafers, noodles and biscuits and mother also gets inspired to give such snacks.
[DIVYA BHASKAR-10-06-2008, 26-04-2016]
When the mother gives her milk, then it is a divine feeling for the child and while feeding when the mother puts he hand on the child’s head, it is a divine blessing precious than God’s blessing.
Breast milk is life’s elixir, life’s nutrient and the flow of milk is like the flow of mother’s incomparable love.
Every child’s need of nutrients is different. This need cannot be fulfilled with outside milk and market milk.