First Steps on “Solid” Ground – Part I

SIX TO EIGHT MONTHS

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Oh my god, I’m celebrating my baby’s half birthday soon! How fast time flies ! And before you even know it, it’s time to introduce your baby to solids. This is a period of rapid and exciting food exploration. For a few days now, you might have noticed that your baby is curious to know what’s on your plate, well…. she can try it herself now! This transition from liquid to solid feeding opens up a whole new world of taste and textures. Let’s see how this healthy, happy journey unfolds!

It’s a tremendous responsibility on us as parents to do everything it takes to ensure a healthy and happy environment  for our loved ones, especially  since we all know the effects that poor nutrition has on health, which in turn can lead to epidemics of childhood obesity and diabetes.

Ultimately, well fed children are more likely to sleep well and perform well, and ensure that their milestones are not delayed. It’s high time we kick out foodstuffs that are heavily processed and sacrifices nutrition for taste. And when better to start, than now?

Six months

By the age of six months, the birth weight has doubled and the baby can hold her head up. Make sure to feed your child in a comfortable seated position AT THE DINING TABLE. The child needs to know that there is a specific place for eating, just like bathing, sleeping and playing. This plays an important role in inculcating healthy table manners.  Also, remember that the first foods are not replacements for mother’s milk. The first few weeks are just to add in the experience of tasting and swallowing new foods. The vast majority of calories still need to come from breastmilk.

The first foods need not be store bought. Don’t look beyond your kitchen. Kanji or porridge makes an excellent first food. Texture needs to be modified (pureed) in case of fruits and vegetables. Like I’ve always stressed, eliminate salt and sugar (even honey) from the child’s food – let them discover the real taste of foods! Also, cooking healthy food for the baby is known to have ripple effects in the family! First foods could include (pureed) foods like:

Foods to include Foods to avoid
  • ragi, rice, millet flour porridge (kanji)
  • Boiled and pureed carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cauliflower, spinach, bottle gourd 
  • Boiled and pureed apples, pears, 
  • Home made fresh fruit juices without added sugars
  • Thin watery soups like dal water, spinach soup, clear vegetable stock
  • tender coconut water
  • Wheat and its products
  • Eggs
  • Non vegetarian foods
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Salt
  • Sugar, honey
  • Cow’s milk

Remember to introduce one new food at a time and allow at least a week’s time before trying out another new food. This is to rule out the risk of food intolerances and to easily pinpoint the source of food allergies, if any. Also, bear in mind to offer a few teaspoons of boiled cooled water after a solid food intake.

Seven to eight months:

By this age, the child is more accustomed to a variety of food and is ready to accept solid food as a meal in place of breast milk. So, this is the time to substitute a breast feed for an actual meal. Choose a time that’s closer to mealtimes so that the child experiences family meals rather than having the table all to himself. Textures can be minced or mashed depending on his teething schedule. Include a variety of colours in the form of fruits and vegetables. Foods could include:

Foods to include Foods to avoid
  • Almost all vegetables cooked
  • Cooked fruits like apples, pears
  • Fresh mashed bananas, chikoos, avocados, watermelon
  • Wheat and its products like chapathi
  • Breadsticks and carrot sticks to ease teething pain
  • Texture modified idli/dosa and khichdi
  • Home made fresh fruit juices
  • Salt
  • Sugar, honey
  • Dairy and its products
  • Candies, toffees and chocolates
“SOLID” TAKE HOME MESSAGE
  • Each child is different and will accept solid foods differently too. Let the child accept foods at his own pace and respect his food likes and dislikes. Never compare two children of similar age groups.  Respect them for their individuality! 
  • Instead of flavouring food with salt and sugar, try ginger, garlic, fennel, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon and cardamom. 
  • It might take up to 14 trials before a baby accepts a new food. So don’t lose hope. 
  • Lastly, remember that we are our children’s “master chefs”, so don’t hesitate even a tiny bit to get creative in the kitchen.
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