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Infant Feeding - 6 - 9 months

 

 

Introduction Qualities of weaning foods To improve the nutritive value
Guidelines during Weaning

Major weaning foods

Care during preparation Cereals
Tubers and Starchy Roots
Pulses
Oil Seeds and Nuts
Vegetables
Fruits
Juice of fresh fruits
Fish Liver Oil
Oils and Fats
Sugar and Jaggery
Foods of animal Origin
Milk and Milk Products
Summary
Calorie dense foods
Malting
Various food preparations
 

MAJOR WEANING FOODS

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

Cereals

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.

Tubers and Starchy Roots

These are mostly eaten in addition to cereals and include potato, sweet potato and colocasia (arwi). In parts of Kerala, tapioca or cassava is eaten instead of rice. These are rich in carbohydrates but if given alone, especially after being cooked in water, are too low in energy.

Pulses

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). Well-cooked pulses along with cereals in the form of kichidi/pongal can be given or can be made into porridges. Pulse and meat preparation can be given alternate days.

Oil Seeds and Nuts

Roasted groundnut is recommended in winter. In Maharashtra and Gujarat, green boiled groundnut is popular.

Vegetables

Vegetables are poor in calories and protein but are good sources of vitamins (especially A, B and C) and minerals (esp. iron). The dark green or yellow vegetables are particularly good sources of vitamin A. Generally, darker the color, better the food value.

Cooked, mashed vegetables like potato, green leafy vegetables, carrots etc. can be introduced to get vitamins and minerals in the diet.

Fruits

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 as well as their juices serve to supplement the protective nutrients not present in sufficient amounts in breast milk as well as in animal milk.

In the early stages, the fruit juice is diluted with an equal amount of boiled water and only a couple of teaspoonfuls are fed. After the age of 6 months, the amount of fruit juice fed is gradually increased and at the same time the dilution with water is cut down and eventually stopped.

Fish Liver Oil:

Fish liver oils are good sources of vitamin A and D. Infants should 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. They include:

  1. Meats including organ meats. Mutton and chicken are most commonly consumed while pork and beef are preferred by certain communities. Meat often needs to be chopped very finely, or pounded with a pestle to make it easy for babies to eat.
  2. Fish, consumed mostly in coastal areas like Konkan, Maharashtra, Bengal, Kerala, etc. Care must be exercised to separate the small sharp bones.
  3. 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.

The fish or meat serving may be alternated with egg yolk and dal. Minced and cooked meat or boiled fish may be fed after suitably flavoring with salt, 3 to 4 times a week.

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. In addition to being used alone, milk can also 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 in addition to or in place of milk. All of them have good nutritive value.

TO IMPROVE THE NUTRITIVE VALUE OF WEANING FOODS

We are told about 5 different food groups. How to mix them while planning a menu for young children?

Besides the basic staple food, which is generally a cereal such as wheat, rice or jowar that provide energy, items from the following groups must be added to the diet.

  • Proteins: are beneficial for the growing child. Animal milk and milk products are good sources. Where feasible eggs, meat and fish can be used to provide high quality protein. However, pulses and beans are good alternatives, especially in vegetarians.

  • Oils and fats are rich sources of calories and make the weaning food softer and tastier. Vegetable oils should be preferred over ghee. A little oil should always be added to the weaning diet to increase the nutritive value.

  • Vegetables and fruits supply vitamins and minerals including iron. Seasonal, readily available and economical options should be used. The vegetables can be easily cooked with ‘dals’.

Fortunately the diet pattern in India consists of a mixture of cereals and pulses, like idli, dosa and pongal in south, and khichri and missi roti (mixture of wheat and gram flour-besan) in the North.

Iron stores in the liver of the infant would last only upto 5 – 6 months. Hence iron rich foods like dark green leafy vegetables, cereals, wheatflour, rice flakes, legumes, jaggery liver, meat, organ meats, poultry, egg yolk. (iron is in readily available form i.e. heme iron) in appropriate forms should be given.

CARE DURING PREPARATION

Should any special care be taken during preparation?

The nutritive value of many weaning foods can be improved by taking due care during preparation. The porridge or for that matter any other weaning food should not be excessively watered down or thinned in the belief that it will be easier to ingest and digest. A classic example of this is the thin ‘dal’ water. Even small babies can easily tolerate semi-solid foods and over dilution results in loss of valuable calories.

Unnecessary loss of nutrients should be avoided. For instance, it is better to wash vegetables whole before cutting them into small pieces. The smaller the piece, the greater is the loss of nutrients. Use the minimum amount of water for cooking and mash the food with the water used for cooking. Adding excess water and draining it off later results in loss of water-soluble nutrients and should be avoided.

Husks, bean skin and vegetable fibers can cause indigestion, so everything must be thoroughly mashed in the beginning.

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