As a new mother, this phase was very exciting for me. But, I have to admit that I felt quite anxious and nervous at the same time. I started introducing solid foods to my child when she completed 6 months of age. (Please wait until your child has completed 6 months unless otherwise recommended by the paediatrician) Her first food was home-made ragi porridge from scratch. I vividly remember making the porridge, tasting it, weighing it to 100g as prescribed by the paediatrician (I actually weighed it!!!) and then prayed to all Gods while feeding my little one. To my surprise, she actually welcomed the new food and ate it all! She ate that as her midmorning meal for the rest of the month.
Moving on, I introduced mashed fruits like chikoo, banana (all varieties), fruit juices like mosambi, orange; apple puree and khichdi. While making the khichdi, I soaked the rice and dal together and then pressure cooked it with garlic or asafoetida and any vegetable that I used for regular cooking that day. Once cooked, I mashed the food and gave it to her without adding salt or sugar. It might sound weird to you all, but trust me, infants will eat the food as their taste buds aren’t accustomed to salt and sugar.
As the months passed on, I introduced dosa, idli, and slowly tried other foods regularly eaten at home. By the time she turned 1 year of age, I had slowly introduced her to most foods that we normally eat. After her first birthday she gradually moved on to family meals with a slight change in texture keeping salt and sugar at a bare minimum. It is at this time that I introduced non vegetarian foods to her – hard boiled/ fully cooked scrambled eggs, chicken soup and steamed fish. Texture differences depends on when the child starts teething. My little one started teething late, and hence I had to modify the texture.
The top 5 tips that helped me greatly is what I’m sharing with you all. Read on:
- Never express your food dislikes at the dining table – This has helped to form good table manners in my household. As couples, both my husband and myself decided to never say “I don’t like…” at the table. We have changed ourselves and try to eat a little of what we don’t like and more quantities of the foods we like. This way, we let our daughter decide her own food likes and dislikes rather than getting influenced by us. And I must say, this worked tremendously – she is more open to trying new foods and eats almost everything that is cooked at home without making a fuss.
- Start with very small amount – I started off with 100g. Wait for 24 hours. Once the food is accepted by the baby, gradually increase the quantity. Within a week or so, you can gauge how much she can eat. Respect your child’s cues and stop feeding when full.
- Leave a gap of at least a week before trying another new food – Some foods may cause adverse reactions ranging from diarrhoea to food allergies. To easily pinpoint the source, it is highly recommended to stick to one new food at a time. Their stool is a good indicator of how well they have accepted the new food.
- No added salt and sugar – Salt and sugar are taste enhancers. Every food naturally has some amount of salt and sugar in them and it is not necessary to include these in your child’s diet. This also helps the child appreciate the natural taste of food without relying on taste enhancers and they grow up to be less fussy. Also, their kidneys are not fully developed to take in the high load of salt.
- Feeds at the dining table only – I was very particular about feeding her at the dining table without any distractions such as the TV or a phone. I respected her feeling of fullness and stopped when she indicated that she felt full. As parents or caretakers, we cannot gauge how full our children are and must adhere to their signals. Force feeding overrides the signals sent from the child’s brain, and eventually the child will start to ignore internal feelings of fullness and will overeat causing chronic diseases later on. While feeding him in front of media, he is easily distracted to listen to his internal signals and will overeat.
Also, ensure to feed a few spoons of boiled cooled water after every solid meal.
Word of caution: Every child is different and will appreciate foods differently. It is very important to let the child develop his taste buds naturally and not compare it with another child of similar age.
This is an amazing phase, relish it along with your loved little ones!!!
Happy weaning !