Solid foods

You are recommended to continue with exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. Breast milk continues to supply many of the nutrients that your baby needs, but as your baby grows and becomes more active, their nutrient requirements increase significantly. Introduce a semi solid baby food after your baby completes six months of age along with breastfeeding.
It’s an exciting part of a baby’s development and an essential one. It will help in meeting the infant’s growing requirement for energy and nutrients.

How do you know your baby is ready for solid foods?

Have good head control
Show interest in food. Your baby may look at food eagerly & watch
Are able to sit with support
Start to look for milk feeds more frequently, for over more than a week
Complementary feeding is something that can’t be done in a hurry – it’s a gradual progression where the baby moves from a liquid to a thick, well mashed food and then onto finely chopped and family food.

Here are some dos and don’ts to guide you:

  1. Be gradual and introduce one food at a time.
  2. Start with easily digestible cereals, followed by dals and then fruits and vegetables.
  3. Introduce one food per week before trying a new food.
  4. Encourage foods with cereal pulse mix (e.g. Khichdi, Dosa, Idli or Chila). Enrich foods by fermentation and germination.
  5. Add small amount of ghee or oil in all the feeds to make it energy and nutrient dense.
  6. Honey should not be given to infants below one year of age as it can contain bacterium (Clostridium botulinum) causing infant botulism, a potentially fatal illness.
  7. Avoid giving fried and packaged foods and drinks like tea, coffee, fizzy and packaged drinks.
  8. Do not give foods with potential choking hazards (e.g. large chunks of foods, whole foods, nuts, seeds, etc).
  9. Iron, Vitamin A and Iodine are important nutrients, Therefore include fortified cereals in their diet.
  10. Store food safely. Prepare fresh feeds and consume them within 1-2 hours.
  11. Wash your & baby’s hands before preparing a feed or before and after feeding your baby.
  12. Always remember complementary foods should be “balanced food”. Introduce a variety of foods from different food groups. Cereals, milk and milk products, pulses and dals, dark-colored vegetables, fruits, eggs, meat, fish, fats/oil, sugar and jaggery.

Data on File: Infant Nutrition Handbook, 2007 Numico Asia Pacific.