Previously, the term ‘Weaning’ was used for introducing solid and semisolid foods in an infant who was previously exclusively Breastfed. As terminology was misleading, Complementary feeding is a more appropriate terminology. Complementary feeding is generally started at 6 months. It is food added to the diet of baby, without compromising breast feed. A Cochrane review by Kramer 2002, led to a directive that Exclusive breastfeeding continue till 6 months of life.
The General rules to be followed for Complementary feeds are:
- Average stomach capacity of infants is about 250ml, increasing to 350ml at 2 years. Nutritional needs of growing baby should be packed into that volume.
- Aim to reach 3 semi-solid feeds a day by 8 months in addition to mother’s milk.
- Ideal energy density of the meal should be 1 KCal/gm. More than 1.5 KCal/Gram predisposes a child to obesity.
- 1.5-2gm/kg of protein is needed by the growing baby 6 months through 24 months. At least 50% of it should come from milk, the rest from semisolids. Egg, fish and chicken are excellent sources of first class proteins for the baby, provided it is culturally acceptable.
- 20-25% of energy requirement should be through fats and not more than 10% of it should be from saturated fats.
- Starting foods should be ideally similar in taste to milk for acceptability. Other flavors can be added sequentially to the diet from 7 months onward.
- Start finger foods by 9 months.
- Babies often refuse foods initially, but will accept them when tried again. Up to 7 trials of a foods can be tried before giving it up.
- Expose the babies to fruits and vegetables from 7 months on wards.
- Propriety branded foods can be tried by those who can added as starter foods. They are wholesome and have the right texture. But, quickly wean the babies to home available foods once they learn to swallow and accept non-milk based flavors.
- Strictly avoid low protein high sugar foods as well as low nutritive value diets like boiled apple, plain vegetable soups and mashed potatoes.
Disclaimer:These are general guidelines. A proper counselling should be sought from a Pediatrician or a doctor for a proper and smooth weaning regarding method and foods for complementary feeding.
The article has been derived from HCP Connexions Issue on Complementary feeding, Nutricia Research.