What is meant by complementary feeding?
Complementary feeding means giving other foods and liquids to complement, not replace, the nutrients in breast milk. Breastfeeding for two years of age or longer helps a child to develop and grow strong and healthy.
When should a baby begin to receive complementary foods?
Babies should begin to receive complementary foods in addition to breast milk when they are 6 months old. For babies who are breastfed, breast‐milk continues to provide essential nutrients to the baby and half or more of the child’s nutritional needs from 6‐to‐12 months and at least one‐third of their nutritional needs are met from 12‐to‐24 months. In addition to nutrition, breast‐milk continues to protect the child from many illnesses. It also improves bonding that facilitates psychological development. Babies who are receiving appropriate replacement milk do not need additional food until 6 months. Thereafter, they require at least 500 ml of replacement milk every day, in addition to complementary foods.
What/when/how much to be given?
- Mothers and other caregivers should wash their hands and the babies’ hands before preparing foods and feeding. All bowls, cups and utensils should be cleaned well. It is best to use a separate plate to feed the baby.
- Start with well cooked and mashed Rice/Dalia/Ragi/Khichri with sugar and ghee or fruits/vegetables pureed.
- Start with right order- always start with carbohydrates first and then protein like pulses and legumes (chicken/fish for non vegetarians). Fats are last to be introduced.
- Continue to introduce a variety of new foods so that baby gets a balance of good nutrients. As babies grow, they gradually need to increase the amount, density and diversity of the foods they eat to ensure that their nutritional needs are met.
- When babies first begin to eat, they should receive about 3 tablespoons of food 2 times each day, slowly increasing the amount, thickness and types of food that are offered
- Between 7 and 8 months of age, babies need to eat 3 meals per day if they are receiving some kind of milk. If no milk is available, babies need to eat 5 meals per day. The baby’s food should be mashed, pureed or semi‐solid, but be thick enough so that it does not run off the spoon.
- At 9 months onwords can safely introduce wheat products (bread/oats/pasta) cheese and eggs if there is negative history of food allergy in the family.
- Home prepared food is the best and always try to start with single food item rather than mixing foods.
- Encourage self feeding as soon as possible by this child more likely to eat by choosing own pieces of food.
- Increase their plain water intake when babies started on solids.
- After eating well when baby turns their face/looks down means their tummy is full.
- When baby is able to sit without support try o eat whole family together. This will help child to try wider range of food items.
- Between 9 and 11 months of age, babies need to eat 3 meals each day, plus one healthy snack in between meals.
- Between 12 and 24 months of age, babies continue to need 3 to 4 meals each day, plus 2 healthy snacks in between meals. At this age, children can eat the same types of food as adults.
- Peas, beans, lentils, and nuts and seeds, are good for children. Dark green leaves and orange colored fruits and vegetables help the child to have healthy eyes and fewer infections.
- Encourage the child to drink and to eat during illness and provide extra food after illness to help them recover quickly.
- Don’t add too much salt to the food because infants kidneys are still immature.
- Sugary foods/drinks under 1 year can lead to tooth decay.