Every new parent struggles with their baby’s diet. Is the child eating the right kind of food? Is it enough? To add to the pressure, there is the well-meaning, but also never-ending advice from everyone. If you’re struggling with this too, here’s a step-by-step dietary guide that could help:
1. But First, Mother’s Milk (0-6 Months)
For the first six months, all the nutrients that a baby needs can only be found in the mother’s milk. During the first two months, it’s best to feed the baby when they are hungry rather than trying to set a feeding schedule. You can try and work on the schedule as the child grows older.
Before the hunger cries begin, try looking out for signs like lip-smacking and thumb sucking.
And if your baby is on formula remember that the average intake is around 850-900 ml.
2. Get Ready For Rejection (5-6 Months)
Most babies are ready for solids between 5-6 months. When you feel your baby is ready, offer them 1 to 2 tablespoons of food once a day.
Try this technique for a week and if your baby has responded well, then add another meal.
At this stage of their growth, babies should be getting cereals, fruits and vegetables, in addition to 3-5 nursing sessions. Also, remember to try out tiny bites of banana, omelette and mashed potatoes.
Your baby is definitely going to reject some foods in the beginning, and that’s completely natural. The vital thing to keep in mind is to be patient and keep trying.
3. Trial & Error: Baby Food (6-8 Months)
At this stage, your baby is used to the idea of solids and is probably looking for a little bit more variety in their diet. Instead of sticking to rice, try out other grains like oats and barley.
You can also introduce mashed vegetables or fruit purees at this stage. You can also add meat and pulses but in a pureed form.
If you’ve been feeding your baby with a spoon up until this stage, you can try placing the food in a high chair or a plate and encourage them to eat on their own. This will help them to feel the texture of the food they’re eating and also improve their motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
4. Dice & Dine (Baby food for 8-11 Month olds)
Your baby is now ready to consume diced food. You can start including diced vegetables, finger foods and meats if you haven’t already. Even if your baby is nursing, make sure their primary source of nutrition is solid food, and that they are fed at regular intervals.
5. Whole Foods (12-24 Months)
Your baby is finally ready to have whole foods, but ensure you introduce them in small quantities. Start small and gradually increase the amount. You can also start giving them healthy snacks at regular intervals to add some colour to their diet. If your baby is on formula, switch to 2 full glasses of milk, daily.
At this age, your baby also needs all the hydration they can get so make sure that they drink enough water.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)