Weaning tips for Infants – (Continued)
Previously we have given the weaning schedule for babies up to 6 months of age.
After the 6th month, an evening meal can be started which is similar to the breakfast meal of a cereal like Ragi powder cooked into a porridge with milk. Commercially available cereal products like Cerelac may be continued for 1-2 months. The lunch meal must be a combination of rice, dhal and vegetables like potato, carrot and beans. All these must be very well cooked, soft and mashed together with a fork. The 7th month is also the time to introduce a dinner meal at about 7pm. This may be a cereal preparation similar to the breakfast or a commercial product like Cerelac which includes some vegetables or fruits as well.
Fresh apple, scraped with a spoon can be given before or after dinner from 7 months onwards. It is a waste to stew apple or juice it. Scrape the pulp carefully from a freshly cut apple and give tiny amounts in a spoon.
Egg yolk may be introduced after 7 months. It must be fully cooked and mashed. Half boiled or raw egg cannot be digested and is eliminated from the body. Idli, dosa and upma can be given for breakfast from the 7th or 8th month.
Boiled chicken and fish may be added to the lunch after 8 months. Whole egg can be introduced in the diet after 9 or 10 months. Ghee is not necessary for the baby and must be strictly avoided till 9 months of age as the digestive system of the infant is too delicate to digest additional fats. If you do want to add ghee to the food it must be done only after 9 months of age. After 9 months, the Cerelac used for dinner should also be changed to a meal similar to lunch.
By 10 month’s small pieces of fruits and boiled vegetables may be given as finger foods cut into finger shaped sticks, which they can hold and eat on their own. Biscuits also may be eaten on their own. When finger foods or biscuits are given an adult must be watching the child so that no broken bit of food gets stuck in the child’s throat.
Great care should be taken to keep all utensils and one's hands very clean and to use properly boiled and cooled water while preparing juices. Please wash hands and fruits thoroughly before preparing and feeding the child.
Some precautions about feeding bottle use
All mothers should try to breast feed their infants for at least the first 6 months. If this is not possible, then using a bottle is a convenient and safe way to feed an infant provided the bottle is thoroughly washed and sterilized. In conditions of poor hygiene and sanitation as in slums, etc., women are best advised not to use the bottle. Special care should be taken not to allow a baby to sleep with the bottle in the mouth, as this is a primary cause of early tooth decay.
Another dangerous practice is for a mother to fill a bottle with warm milk and leave it on her bedside table so that she can conveniently feed her baby at any time of the night. This warm milk is a perfect medium for bacteria that can give the baby a badly upset tummy. The bottle-feed has to be prepared as and when required. You may keep warm water in a flask and mix the formula milk powder in it when required.