Your baby is your lifeline. Every parent desires a healthy and happy baby and takes every exertion possible to achieve this too. Baby’s growth and development amongst others chiefly depends on her food intake. They say “We are what we eat” and baby is no exception to this adage.Parents and more so the first-timers are often anxious on what to feed and what to keep away from baby’s daily food intake. It takes a while to get the hang at the art of parenting and feeding. Here’s where this article BABY FOOD CHART 0-6 MONTHS helps.
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Baby’s First Year
Human babies are something of an engineering marvel! From being a helpless miniscule infant to one that’s almost unrecognisable at the end of the first year of birth, human babies undergo an incredible transformation. From just lying down on their back and sleeping almost 18 hours at birth to turning into a walking and sometimes even talking marvel at the end of the first year of birth babies grow and develop at an astounding pace.
Each baby achieves growth milestones at their own pace during the first year of birth; some getting mobile sooner than others and some developing a semblance to a reasonable language and vocal skill far earlier than their counterparts.
From being an infant whose staple diet is milk to getting up to eating semi-solids and solids (in some cases) infants pass through an incredible gastronomical journey during the first year of their lives.
So it becomes vital to understand what and how to feed babies during the course of their first year post-birth.
In this two-part article, I take you through the dos and don’ts at feeding and food charts for baby during the course ofthe first year of her life.
Baby’s physical development during the first year:
The first year in your baby’s life holds significance like no other. The pace of growth during baby’s first year compares to none during the rest of her life. Beginning from learning how to smile to getting a hold at balancing her head and body, building up her pincer grip to turning her body over from back to tummy and vice versa and moving on to sitting upright and learning to use her limbs to crawl/glide (some babies skip this). Learning to understand language and make babbling sounds and developing the use of hands to clap and hold objects and move up to a standing position to cruising from a point to another and may be even learn to walk and develop vocabulary and pretend play antics.
Phew, that’s some phenomenal quickness at physical development!
Her mind’s also developing alongside and she is getting more observant of the world and her surroundings. She begins to respond and display her likes and dislikes. She begins to identify some colours and shapes and familiar faces too.
All this fast paced development necessitates a healthy, nutritious and fulfilling diet too.
Her diet needs to keep pace and matchup to the growth and maturity of her internal and external organs. As her teeth and stomach coupled with her digestion grow and improve her diet needs to move on from chiefly liquid to semi solid and thereafter a regular solid adult-like diet (keeping baby’s development and any special health requirements in mind).
Food to Baby:
One of the most common queries that you face as a parent would relate to food. You are generally uncertain about what, how much and when to offer food to your baby. Every baby and parent is one-of-a-kind. What works in a family may not be the rule of thumb for another.
Some parents introduce food and top feed (besides mother’s milk) as early as 4 months and some others wait until 6 months to do the same.
What not to offer to baby during the first year -BABY FOOD CHART 0-6 MONTHS
Mentioned under is the list of what not to offer to your baby during her first year (unless otherwise instructed by her Pediatrician):
- Cow’s Milk and Soy Milk
- Fruit juice especially citrus fruits
- Refined Grains
- Unpasteurized Foods
- Sugar and Sugar rich foods including chocolates and candies
- Meat and Fish
- Allergenic Foods
- Citrus fruits and berries
- Nitrate rich vegetables
BABY FOOD CHART 0-6 MONTHS
Undermentioned are suggestive food charts for babies in the age group of 0-6 months:
New Born BABY FOOD CHART 0-6 MONTHS
A baby’s stomach is the same size as her fist. There’s absolutely nothing better than breastmilk for a new born baby. Breast milk has the right nutrients that baby needs during her first few months after birth. Breastmilk also contains anti bodies that build up a new born baby’s immune system and is light on her tummy. Breastfeeding mums must however watch their diet and food intake and prefer home cooked meals over outside food. Mums must also ensure to eat regularly and not worry about their pregnancy weight loss.
In some cases when breast milk production is insufficient or when baby is not gaining enough weight or hungry even after a breastfeed, or when mum is unavailable to feed baby for any reason, her Pediatrician may recommend giving Formula milk or any other substitute to baby. In such cases parents are to supplement baby’s milk intake as directed by her physician. Baby’s milk intake increases as she grows and as her digestive system matures.
1-3 Months old baby’s food chart:
Pediatricians all over the world agree that children should be exclusively breastfed until 6 months of age from birth. Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has produced guidelines in this regard.
However there are certain households that start solid food for babies that are less than 3 months of age. It is however to be understood that such an early start at solid foods puts the baby at a risk of developing food allergies. Baby’s young digestive system is still immature to handle solid food in any form.Breastmilk contains all the nutrients that are required for the physical and mental development of baby until the age of 3 months.
Mothers may sometimes be concerned about inadequate milk production. Unless your doctor mentions this be assured that you are producing sufficient milk to meet baby’s needs. Also your milk production depends on baby’s demands. The more you feed the more milk you shall make too but however if for any reason you are to give top feed to baby, then go as advised by your Pediatrician.
Exclusively breastfed baby’s milk intake from 0-6 months should roughly be as under mentioned:
|Baby Age (in months)||When to feed||Quantity per feed (ml)|
|0-1||Every 2 hours or on demand||60-120|
|1-4||Every 2-3 hours||120-210|
|5-6||Every 3-4 hours||107-125|
Formula fed baby’s milk intake should roughly be as under mentioned:
|Baby Age (in months)||When to feed||Quantity per feed (ml)|
|0-1||Every 2 hours or on demand||60-120|
|1-3||Every 2-3 hours||120-150|
|3-4||Every 2.5-3.5 hours||150-210|
3-6 Months old baby’s food chart:
In most Indian households, mothers begin to partially wean off baby after they turn 4 months old. A special ceremony known as Annaprashanis also performed that formally starts the introduction of food besides milk.
Mothers may even begin to substitute one milk feed per day from breastmilk to formula (proceed as directed by the physician). Mums must closely watch their infant’s intake to understand if they need any food besides milk. Generally babies begin to show signs of additional food intake besides milk and it is well reflected in their weight and readiness to accept any food besides milk.
This time is also considered good to introduce babies to different foods and watch out for their reactions and body acceptance of the same. Mums can talk in detail with the child’s Pediatrician to well understand how and when to introduce food besides milk to her infant.
Certain signs that tell you your baby is ready to have food besides milk is as under:
- Baby’s learnt to hold her neck and sit with adequate back support (this minimizes the risk of choking)
- Baby seems hungry even after a milk feed and her weight is not improving as required
- Baby seems eager to try new foods and watches you closely when you eat
- Baby opens her mouth and reacts to food that’s brought close to her mouth
Tips while feeding baby:
- Always keep all feeding supplies handy such as bibs, wet wipes/napkins, feeding utensils and spoons etc. even before you begin to feed baby
- Always harness baby if you seat her upright in a high chair/baby feeding chair
- Never leave baby unattended in between a feed
- Do not force baby to eat if she is averse to the food being offered
- Do not overfeed
- Feed a single grain food at a time only
- Keep a gap of at least 3 days in between new foods introduced to baby
What can be baby’s first food?
Doctors generally recommend starting fruit as baby’s first food, with the exception of citrus fruits (that are acidic in nature). Generally boiled, mashed and pureed fruit pulp such as apple puree can be offered to infants after they turn 4 months old. Baby may take just a few spoons in the beginning. If she shows an aversion to a particular food, then do not offer the same until after a few weeks. Even if baby is tempted to eat more, stick to giving her a limited quantity only in the beginning. And also watch out for any allergic reactions. Discontinue a food immediately if you suspect an allergy and contact your Pediatrician for the next course of action.
BABY FOOD CHART 0-6 MONTHS
Baby’s food chart at 3-6 months may comprise of the following:
- Breast milk/ Formula (if advised)
- Pulses water/Pulses soup, particularly use Moong Dal as it’s easy to digest and does not make baby colicky
- Mashed and boiled fruits such as apples, mangoes and bananas
- Fruit purees, without added sugar
- Well cooked, mashed and pureed vegetables/soups that are of semi solid or liquid consistency
- Single grains such as pulses, raagi, oats etc. that are easily digestible
The table below can serve as a suggested feed chart for baby. Do however seek your doctor’s advice and proceed accordingly while feeding baby:
|Time||What to feed|
|5 A.M.||Breast Milk/Formula whatever you feed baby with (and generally baby goes back to sleep at this hour after a feed)|
|7 A.M.||Breast Milk/Formula-generally babies play for a while at this hour especially if you have older children and then take a small nap again|
|9 A.M.||Breakfast-you may serve fruit purees (without sugar) or boiled and mashed fruits. Any new food that you wish to introduce your baby to, must be done at this time only. You will be able to assess reaction (if any) to a new food and baby will be better receptive to try on a new food after a good night’s sleep and rest|
|10.30 AM.||After a massage and bath, babies are generally sleepy by this time; you should give them breast milk/formula feed. Baby can be fed through a bottle/or by any other means that you are using|
|1 P.M.||Baby will wake up hungry after a nap and this is a good time to serve lunch in the form of pulses soup/single grains such as ragi, oats etc. If baby is taking on semi solids you may even try start feeding rai balls, porridge, halwa etc. You may also give small quantities of unsweetened yogurt to baby.If you have introduced meat then pureed meat can also be given|
|2.30 P.M.||Baby will want to have breast milk/formula before going to sleep In the afternoon|
|4 P.M.||Once baby is up from her nap, you may feed her soup/boiled vegetable purees|
|5 P.M.||You may massage baby and also offer her some simple finger foods/iron fortified cereals that are diluted in consistency etc. There are baby finger food packs readily available in the market or you may even make them at home|
|6.30||Some babies may take a small half hour nap after their massage and once they are up you may feed them breast/formula milk. Try and give a quantity lesser than the usual feed so as to make room for a semi-solid meal later|
|8 P.M.||At this hour if baby is not too tired and you have introduced her to more than a single grain, you may give her khicadi, dalia, ragi. If baby is colicky then stick to a single grain|
|10 P.M.||This should be a milk feed. If you have started to give formula, then prefer giving her formula so that she stays full for longer and you may also get a few hours of sleep at a stretch|
|Sleep time feeds||During night baby may get up between 1-3 times. Do feed as per demand, unless instructed otherwise by the doctor|
Also an important point to remember is that any food besides milk that is introduced during the 1st year is only a supplement and milk forms the core of baby’s diet during her first year. So mums must actively breastfeed babies during this time. The first year of a baby’s life is to explore and introduce new tastes besides milk and do remember that as baby grows her tastes and food preferences will keep evolving and changing. Generally babies must triple their birth weight at the end of their first year and then you can be sure that baby is doing well in terms of her growth and nutrition.
What must and must not form part of your baby’s food intake is to be solely discussed and finalized by your child’s Pediatrician. And food suggestions made in the article are to be taken as suggestions only and given to baby in consultation with the baby’s Pediatrician.