Starting Solids.. Do’s and Don’t

पौष्टिक पूरक आहार -स्वस्थ जीवन का आधार

After breastfeeding, starting solids is another important milestone in baby’s life. Nutritious food is the cornerstone for good health.

We all want meal times to be happy and stress free. Baby should enjoy his/her meal time and at the same time it should be nutrient dense to meet requirements of its growing body.

In the last decade scenario has changed .Babies, toddlers and young children are becoming more and more fussier at mealtimes”

My child is not eating well “is most commonly heard statement these days. Meal times have become stressful for both parents and children.

Parents resort to all type of tactics to make child eat like…

  • Roaming after child from one room to another,
  • showing television,
  • playing rhymes in mobiles,
  • offering a variety of toys ,
  • making funny faces, cajoling,
  • force feeding ,
  • at times emotional black mailing ,and the list is endless.

It seems that it is not simple meal time but some war like situation and parents are bracing up for it daily.

What can be done or as I always believe, what can be avoided to have a happy, stress free mealtime for both parent and child.

ક્યારેક શું કરવું કરતા શું ના કરવું એ બહુ અગત્યનું હોય છે!

ભૂખ્યા રાખો ખાશે, થોડું ફોસલાવી ને ખવડાવી દો,

ખોળા માં સુવડાવી ને બે હાથ ને મોઢું પકડી ને ચમચી ભરો ને રેડી જ દેવાની,

મોબાઈલ, ટીવી આપી દેવાના એટલે શાંતિ થી ખાઈ લે,

થોડો ડર કે ધાક આપી ને ખવડાવી દેવાનું.

આવી માંગી કે વણમાગી સલાહ નો ખડકલો થતો જાય and Parents confused

શું કરીએ અને શું ના કરીએ?

Here, I am sharing few pointers which worked for me and for most of little angels who have come across in my clinical practice.

1. Avoid force feeding:

Respect your child’s wishes.

તમે વાટકી ભરી ને બેઠા એટલે આ વાટકી નો ખોરાક બાળકના પેટ માં ઠાલવી જ નાખવાનો એવો આગ્રહ રાખવો નહિ!

Stomach size and capacity are different. Your child’s stomach size is fixed but can be distended to more. When you force feed the child,  it may cause bloating of tummy , distension of tummy  and at times back flow of food along with stomach acid into throat which is called reflux.All these feelings are very unpleasant.

All this can cause child develop a negative relation with food.

Fact- When child is young, say less than 6 months and is on exclusive breastfeeding or may be on formula feeding were you not relying on baby’s cues? You used to feed when baby was demanding and also baby was deciding how frequently and for how long he wanted to breastfeed and the same is the case with formula feeding.

So suddenly when starting solids we try to take lead in our hands.

એને ભૂખ ની ખબર ના પડે એવું તમે સાંભળ્યું હોય

કેમ ના ખબર પડે?

નવજાત શિશુ હોય ત્યારે ખબર પડે ને મોટો થાય ત્યારે ખબર ના પડે તેવું ના હોય.

So the crux is do responsive feeding. Try to read child’s cues and feed accordingly .Help child develop a positive relation to food and don’t use your authority to force feed the child.

2. Avoid distraction feeding:

A common scenario now a days, child is made to watch television or mobile phone and when the engrossed child opens his mouth and mother or caregiver puts spoonful of food one after other and the child literally gobbles food without any awareness.

FACT: Newborn baby’s brain is the most underdeveloped organ at birth. Tremendous brain development occurs in first 3 year of life. Exclusive breastfeeding till 6 months, after 6 months breastfeeding plus nutritious food, love, secured environment and sensory stimulation all these play an important role in brain development.

Do you know every second 700-800 connections are formed in brain during first 3 years of life. These connections are formed when there is stimulation of any of the five senses e.g. if the baby sees, touches, smells, tastes or hears anything, inputs go to the brain and help in forming new connections. More the connections, more is intellectual quotient of baby.

After breastfeeding, solids or complementary feeding is the only thing that stimulates all the senses together. Hence it is very important that baby/child explores food with all the 5 senses and truly enjoys it rather than just finishing the bowl.

So the crux is, Meal times should be screen free and child should be fed according to his hunger cues .It should be responsive feeding ,once he/she gives cues that he/she is full he should not be distracted or cajoled to eat more.

3. Avoid frequent meals:

Another common scenario where mother or caregiver prepares a food chart or food time table and then every few hourly or 2 hourly, baby/child is offered and is expected to complete that meal too.

Giving too frequent meals, even before baby/child is hungry can affect their relation to food. They may become averse to food.

FACT: It needs at least 4 hours for stomach to empty its content and be ready for next food  

At very short intervals can cause distension of stomach, bloating and even backflow of stomach content into mouth. All these can cause unpleasant sensation in baby/child and may lead to develop negative emotions towards food.

So the crux is to feed on demand and hunger cues.

4. Avoid insistence on completing a predetermined quantity or following food time table.

The baby/child is a dynamic living body. They are not machine who can be programmed to behave in a same manner daily. They have not read any of the parenting books or attended parenting classes. They behave as per their instincts and bodily cues.

At times it is okay if the baby/child does not eat what he is eating regularly. Drop in appetite is at times first symptom of any impending viral illness .Avoid creating  fuss during such time .Avoid forcing or cajoling baby/child to complete the meals if he does not want to. Try to respect baby/child’s wishes and trust his hunger and satiety cues.

5. Avoid offering same, monotonous and visually not appealing food daily.

Have not we heard that < Variety is the spice of life > and also we eat food with our eyes first.

Hence one should try to introduce a variety of food which should be tasty and visually appealing to the baby/child.

It does not mean that one should make elaborate spread or cook totally different meal every time. This would be a herculean task and it is not practically feasible also. Meal times should be fuss free and enjoyable to both mother and baby/child.

One can tweak food from the family pot according to baby/child ‘s handling capacity and taste eg giving dal which is cooked with green leafy  veggies or grated beetroot or grated caroot gives a visually appealing color to dal.

And most important, baby/child learns the most by seeing rather than listening so have healthy eating habits in yourself which child can observe and learn.

6. Avoid /limit sugar, jaggery ,misri, patasha or sweet in any form.

India has become diabetic capital and this corona era has proved how detrimental high sugar levels can be .Sweet taste is very addictive and one cannot limit its quantity so advisable not to expose a naïve baby/child to it in early years.

Recommendation is to avoid salt, sugar in any form till at least 2 years .

7. Avoid giving sweets as reward or substituting meals with sweet if baby/child is refusing to complete meals.

e.g. if you complete dal roti ,will give you icecream or chocolate or if he is refusing to have meal giving roti with jam or jaggery or rice with cheeni .By doing so you are inoculating  unhealthy habits.

Your focus should not be just completing the bowl which you have filled or just to fill baby/child’s tummy but to develop healthy eating habits and positive relation with food.

Don’t focus on quantity of meals but on quality i.e nutrient dense meals should be our focus

Below are the images of few of NEEV graduates….

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