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What to feed 6-12 months baby?

Yay.... your baby has turned 6 months and is ready to try on delicious food other than his staple food - milk. Starting on solids could be exciting and a bit relieving to moms, as they don't have to worry about their milk supply, feeding the child in public places or away at work etc. While this is true to an extent, we have to take it slow and introduce solids to baby gradually. Breast milk or formula will still be baby's primary food and source of nutrients, complemented with solids until he completes his first birthday. 

In this post, I shall explain about few aspects which moms in general would like to know while introducing solids. 

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What is the right stage to feed solids?

Pediatricians suggest to start babies on solids only after they complete 6 months. This is primarily because babies need wholesome nutrients from mom's milk for their development during early formative months. Moreover, baby's digestive system will not be equipped to handle solids. So it is considered safe to feed solids after 6 months. Do check with your pediatrician, just to be sure before you start offering solid food. You may give baby to sip on water, in very small quantity. Too much water consumption impacts his regular food intake and deprives him of required nutrients.

What to feed?

This is a little tricky part. We have to choose food that is very light on baby's tummy, nutritious, healthy and at the same time not allergy prone. We may consider giving fruits, vegetables, cereals and pulses at this stage. Anything that we feed should be well pureed and fed in small quantities, to avoid accidental choking. 

6 - 9 months:

  • Fruits: Mashed banana, steamed and pureed pears or apple   
  • Vegetables: Carrot, sweet potato, potato, pumpkin (cooked and pureed)
  • Cereals: Rice, lentils like moong dal (split yellow lentils), masoor dal (red lentils), toor dal (split pigeon peas), urad dal (split black lentils) in very small quantities, infant cereals like Cerelac, Gerber etc.
9 - 12 months:
  • Fruits: Soft ones like banana, musk melon, papaya, peach etc. We may still steam the apples and pears before offering
  • Vegetables: Can introduce beans, peas, spinach etc. and also feed them soups like tomato soup, vegetable soup (with veggies mashed thoroughly) 
  • Cereals: Apart from rice, we may introduce ragi (finger millet), wheat

If your baby has become an expert at eating soft and mashed food, you may try giving her finger foods around 9 months. By this time, kids will be able to hold food and munch on. Don't worry, they will be messy, but that's how they learn. Isn't it? Start with soft ones cut into bite size pieces like avacados, bananas, peach, kiwi, well ripened papaya; steamed apple, pumpkin, broccoli, carrot, sweet potato and potato sticks. Do not give them raw apple, carrot, celery, nuts, grapes etc. that are hard and pose choking hazards.

What not to feed?

Salt and Sugar: At this stage baby doesn't require salt and sugar, as it is not good for their bodies. So, do not add salt and sugar in the food prepared for kids. Also do not offer them fruit juices to avoid sugar rush.

Nuts: Few doctors suggest it is ok to feed nuts (in powdered form) around 6 months. However I didn't give my kid up to an year. Nuts are hard to digest and pose risk of allergies. There are umpteen options available to feed kids at this age group. So I restricted nuts until he is one year old. If you want to offer your kid nuts, do so in moderation. Offer one variety at a time and check if he isn't allergic to it.

Honey: Honey may contain a bacteria that causes severe illness in infants called botulism (which infects the intestine). So it is best to avoid honey till they cross at least an year. 

Fats: Avoid food with high saturated fats, for example biscuits, cakes, ice creams, french fries etc. You may use ghee (clarified butter) in food preparation that too in moderation.

Cheese, eggs, meat and fish: While cheese provides calcium, proteins and vitamins, certain varieties of them have a risk of carrying bacteria. Similarly raw or lightly cooked eggs, meat and fish varieties like shark, sword, oysters, mussels etc. may cause harm when given to kids under 1 year. So it is better to avoid this food group till an year.

How much to feed?

We may begin offering solid food once or twice a day in small portion. Start with 2 tablespoons of food for a meal. Once the baby is able to feed well, gradually increase the quantity offered to 1/4 cup. Baby will give us cues when it is full or wants more. Generally they refuse to take (by turning away their head) once they are full. Introduce one food at a time (in a day) and check if it doesn't cause any allergic reaction like upset tummy, rashes, constipation etc. So basically after you introduce a new item (could be a fruit or vegetable or cereals) monitor for couple of days to introduce another new food. Whenever baby tries a new food or texture, he may make faces for couple of instances, which is quite common. Try offering the same food few more times to know whether he likes it or not. Do not stop offering based on his reaction on a single day. 

While feeding the baby, have him sit in upright position, so that it is easy for swallowing. Also use a bowl and spoon to feed even if it is of thin consistency. Always supervise the kid while eating. Feeding a kid is definitely tricky and asks for lot patience, but it is worth the effort. This process brings out our creativity in preparing the dish as well as making our child eat it, along with immense satisfaction of offering them nutritious food. 

Note: I am not a professional and all the views shared here are completely from my personal experience and understanding; and should not be considered as professional advise.

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