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Infant Feeding - 4 - 6 months




When and how to start?

Qualities of weaning foods

Guidelines during Weaning

Major weaning foods

Care during preparation Cereals
Juice of fresh fruits
Soup from Green leafy Vegetables
Fish Liver Oil
Oils and Fats
Sugar and Jaggery
Foods of animal Origin
Milk and Milk Products
Bottle feeding
Calorie dense foods
Various food preparations



What are the main categories of Indian Foods that can be used for weaning?


Cereals contain 7 to 12 % proteins and about 75% carbohydrate. They form an important source of energy, iron and protein in the Indian diet and also supply a certain amount of fat, which is referred to as invisible fat.

A thick creamy porridge made from cereals in water/ milk/ milk-water mixture is a good weaning food for babies. Cereals are cheaper than most other foods and are usually consumed by the family. When given alone, especially after being cooked in water, most cereals are too low in energy. The porridge should be thick (too thick to be given in a bottle) and concentrated but soft. Some oil or fat (or sugar) should be added to the porridge to make it richer in calories and easier to swallow and digest. Care should be taken to ensure that the porridge is not watered down or made unduly thin which will further compromise the energy content.


The Indian diet consists of several kinds of legumes - lentils, Bengal gram, red gram, black gram, horse gram, rajma etc. Red gram is mostly eaten in the southern, western and central parts of India. A wider variety of pulses are eaten in the northern parts. Their protein content is 20-25%. Dry legumes that are a much richer source than the immature legumes, are also a good source of vitamins and minerals.

The legumes need to be cooked thoroughly and mashed to make them easily digestible for babies. It should be thick (too thick to be given in a bottle) and concentrated but soft. Some oil or fat (or little sugar) should be added to make it richer in calories and easier to swallow and digest.

When given with cereal staples, they are just as nutritious as animal foods (meat, fish, and milk).


Commonly consumed fruits are banana, guava, melon, mango and citrus fruits. Pear, apple, plum, peach are abundantly available in the hilly regions. Banana is rich in carbohydrates and supplies about 80 calories per 100 gram. It is easily digestible and is very good as the first semi-solid food for the baby. Guava and citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C while mango and papaya are good sources of vitamin A. Before giving any fruit to your baby, be sure that it is washed in clean water, peeled carefully, deseeded and then mashed.

Juice of fresh fruits:

Oranges, tomatoes, sweet lime, grapes serve to supplement the protective nutrients not present in sufficient amounts in breast milk as well as in animal milk. It is advantageous to start feeding small quantities of fresh fruit juice by the 4th month of life.

In the early stages, the fruit juice is strained and diluted with an equal amount of boiled water and only a couple of teaspoonfuls are fed. The amount of fruit juice fed is gradually increased and at the same time the dilution with water is cut down.

Soup from Green leafy vegetables:

In case fresh fruits are not available, green leafy vegetables may be used as an alternative. Strained soups should be given.

Fish Liver Oil:

Fish liver oils are good sources of vitamin A and D. Infants can be given a few drops to � tsp. per day mixed in small quantity of milk.

Oils and Fats

Oils and fats should preferably be added to the weaning foods since they increase energy value, make the food softer and easier to swallow and help in absorption of vitamin A. Many kinds of oils are used in different parts of India – mustard oil in Bengal, Assam and Kashmir, and groundnut, sunflower, palm and til (sesame) oil in other parts.

Sugar and Jaggery

This can be used as an alternative to oils to increase the energy value of the weaning foods. However, care should be taken that excess of sugar is not added as it may result in dental decay and osmotic diarrhea.

Foods of animal Origin

Nearly all foods of animal origin are nutritious since they provide high quality protein, vitamin B12 and iron and are easily digestible.

Cooked, ground and strained fish and meat may be given at five to six months of age. Egg yolk can be given to the infant between the age of four to six months of age. The yolk contains protein, iron and vitamins, which are valuable additions to the baby’s diet. Hard cooked egg yolk seems to agree well with the babies.

Soft custard is also a suitable way in which to introduce egg yolk. Egg white, because of the frequency of allergic manifestations, is not given until the infant is 8 to 10 months old and then it is given very cautiously

Milk and Milk Products

All types of milk provide high quality protein, mostly in the form of casein, in contrast to human milk, which has mainly lactalbumin. The fat content of buffalo’s milk is almost double than that of human or cow’s milk. Milk is a rich source of B6 and calcium, and has some amounts of vitamins A and C, however it is a poor source of iron. Goat’s milk does not have vitamin B12. Instead of just being used alone, milk can be used to cook porridge or added to other weaning foods to enhance their energy content and soften them. Several milk products like curd, cottage cheese (Paneer), khoya, etc. are available and can be used. All of them have good nutritive value.

Bottle feeding

At around the fourth- fifth month of life, frequency of breastfeeding is reduced to 3-4 times per day and animal milk is substituted. Since the proportion of nutrients in animal milk differs from that of human milk, the cow’s milk should be diluted with boiled and cooled water in the proportion of 2:1 for the first few deeds. The amount of water is gradually reduced so that in course of a few weeks the baby receives undiluted animal milk. Two feeds, with 225 ml per feed is an ideal replacement. Sugar can be added for taste and to increase calories.


The steps of sterilization are,

    1. Pour measured amount of milk into thoroughly washed bottle.
    2. Put nipple on the bottle and test the flow of the milk
    3. Cover loosely with nipple cover.
    4. Place bottle in a container and add water to halfway level of bottle
    5. Cover it, bring water to boiling, and maintain boiling for 15 - 20 minutes.
    6. Remove bottle as soon as they can be handled, and cool slightly.
    7. Store in refrigerator.

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