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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Feeding the baby


As adults we take for granted our food habits and digestive system to a large extent, and as mothers of small children we suddenly are faced with the big question of what to feed our child? How much? And how to prepare special baby food?
As a young mother myself, I too faced this problem, and came up with some plain, some innovative and some practical solutions. I am sharing them here for all new, young mothers, who wish to give the very best to their babies.
As much as we have heard that the best food for the baby is mother’s breast milk, some mothers cannot breastfeed the child for various reasons up to the mandated 1st year of the child. I would coax mothers to have a very positive and assertive approach towards breastfeeding and be very open to various ideas, positions and finally once you and your baby are comfortable with breastfeeding, it will be the best gift you can ever give your child! If you manage to exclusively breastfeed your baby for 6 months of his/her life, it will be good enough, and up to the first birthday would be perfect!

But after 6 months, the growth spurts in the child are so rapid that exclusive breastfeeding is not able to provide all the necessary nourishment to the growing needs of your baby. At this stage, if you start supplementing breast milk with top feed, this will help your baby to transition to solid foods easily. As we know, babies need to be fed every couple of hours. Once they are reaching their 6 month birthdays, by then their routine is pretty much set. As mothers we know how often they need to be fed either at the breast or by bottle. Now as the 6 month mark nears, we should try and pick a relaxed time say noon or early evening, when the baby is in a playful mood, and slowly introduce rice water, or vegetable stew, just a few sips initially, preferably at room temperature, with minimal spices or garnish, the gourmet in the baby is yet to discover tastes, or have tastes like the mature adult tongue. But avoid giving extreme sugary or sweetened food as well. Keep the food tastes as close as possible to its natural flavor, so the baby can taste and register the flavor for future reference.
Slowly try and replace one meal during noon time or early evening, with this new top feed. And ensure the baby is getting sated with its new meal. Once the baby begins to accept one meal which is non-breast milk or formula, slowly add two more such top feed meals, during the course of next 3 months. So by the 9th month birthday of your baby you have 3 top feed meals for the baby, now supplemented with breast milk or formula.
I must agree that it is not so easy to supplement meals, nor is it easy to make the baby eat top feed. And it is also very difficult for a new mother to whip up healthy meals in a jiffy for the baby and keep track of them, their contents, and the baby’s reaction to those meals. The easy way out could be commercially prepared add-on meals, like Farex, Cerelac, Nestle etc. As educated adults I would appeal to fellow mothers to once read the entire contents of the packet, Google them, know what they actually contain, and then take a call, whether they are fine with feeding all those chemicals and products to their babies. Am not personally against convenience foods per say, but for our own babies, who are just beginning to eat, do we want to fill up their tiny bodies with such complexities is my only question. For me the answer was no! Hence I decided to go on and prepare home cooked meals for my baby and over time I realized that it is indeed easy and more nutritious for my baby.
The top feed introduced at 6 months and given up to year one is going to form the foundation of your baby’s digestive habits, food tastes and preferences and most importantly set tone for the baby’s adulthood eating patterns. When so much is at stake, I think every sane parent would like to think and rethink about every choice they are making. Having this clear understanding, I selected a few easy to prepare baby foods and took up 3 different dishes to begin with and began recording my baby’s reactions to each food she took and that provided me the cue to either continue or temporarily hold on that particular dish, only to introduce it again after a few weeks or months.
Not to complicate things further, I used excel as merely a table to record all what I wanted to, on daily basis. Once those columns were fixed it took me a mere 3-4 minutes each day to record my baby’s intake for the day. I have provided an example for the same below.

Date
Food given
Reaction
Preference
Sudha raas+ Moong water
Spat out moong, liked sudha raas as closer to honey
Try moong after some days with the peeled variety
Rice+jeera water
Did not spit out, played with spoon eager to put it in mouth
Liked the taste
Rice+jeera water
Did not spit out, played with spoon eager to put it in mouth
Liked the taste
Rice+jeera water+ghee
Did not spit out, played with spoon eager to put it in mouth
Liked the taste
Rice+jeera water+ghee
Did not spit out, played with spoon eager to put it in mouth
Liked the taste
breastfed
Rice+jeera water+ghee
Did not spit out, played with spoon eager to put it in mouth
Liked the taste
Rice+jeera water+ghee
Did not spit out, played with spoon eager to put it in mouth
Liked the taste
breastfed
dry anjeer (fig)coated with honey
sucked and bit into the fig, likes honey so was easy
mixed reaction but good for teething
Rice+jeera water+ghee
Did not spit out, played with spoon eager to put it in mouth
Liked the taste
Raisin
Chewed the raisin till a part broke off in her mouth
Liked the taste
breastfed
breastfed
tur dal+jeera water+hing
Spat out lil initially later liked it
Liked the taste
suvarna siddha jal(water boiled with pure gold coin for 20min, cooled, coin removed then served)
Did not spit out, played with spoon eager to put it in mouth
Liked the taste
pumpkin stock+cinnamon
did not spit out but cried after a few spoonfuls
hold it for a few days
carrot stock
did not spit out but cried after a few spoonfuls
hold it for a few days



















































A cursory glance at the table above will show that there are not many items I have introduced at the beginning. Also my baby did not like the taste of each item introduced to her. And it takes immense amounts of patience to feed your baby even a few spoonfuls, out of which many will land on you and your baby’s dress or your carpet/bed, where ever you might be sitting. My suggestion is, train the baby early on to sit in one designated place or location, and eat. This is a super energy saving tip for the future, when your baby learns to crawl and walk, making you run around the house with spoonful of food. Also prepare the food in extremely small quantities and use only the purest ingredients to make each item. And also accept that some days the baby will not eat anything from ‘hotel Momma’ at all n just prefer the breast/bottle. Let that happen once in a while, because even we adults need chaat n snacks instead of dal-chawal some days.. J


And just on a side note, why do we need a table? Well we need to ensure that the baby gets well rounded nutrition, including good fats, proteins, and vitamins and is able to digest them all easily. The table helps us keep a tab on our baby’s food intake, reaction to food and general food preferences and areas we need to work, to ensure our babies are getting well rounded nourishment, which is vital for their overall development. Watch this space for quick and simple homemade baby food recipes and how to store them and carry them out during travel.

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