Complementary Feeding 6-12 months


General Information

Importance of complementary feeding

  1. To meet the increasing needs of the growing infants that cannot be met by breast milk alone.
  2. To train the children to eat foods  with different tastes and consistency and teach them to munch food thereby getting them accustomed to eat family foods by one year
  3. To train children to eat on their own on reaching two years, by stimulating their feeding skills appropriate to their development.

Early nutrition, especially in-utero and during the first years is crucial to be healthy adults. The first two years of life is a period of rapid physical growth and mental development. Hence infants are more vulnerable to nutritional insults during this period and consequently  it has a great  bearing on health as adults; development of non-communicable diseases, reduced work capacity, reduced IQ , and complications during delivery and LBW with regard to women etc. these factors seriously affect human development which will have negative implications on development.

Click here to access guidelines on infants and young child feeding: Family Health Bureau - Child Nutrition

Recomendations

General Messages  

  1. Exclusive breastfeeding until completion of six months will facilitate optimal growth and development of infants.
  2. Starting soft/semisolid foods in addition to breast milk immediately after completion of 6 months while continuing to breast feed for two years or longer with nutritious complementary food will  help a child to grow well. 
  3. Introducing complementary foods in a form thick enough to stay in the spoon give more energy and nutrients to the child thereby facilitating growth. (Adding oil, thick coconut milk, butter etc. to prepare food will increase the energy density of the food)
  4. Introducing foods of animal origin (sprats, fish, chicken, meat, organ meats like liver) very early (around one week) after introducing complementary foods is essential for healthy growth and brain development. (These will provide easily bio available nutrients such as iron, Zn, Calcium, Proteins etc).
  5. Legumes (Dhal, Beans, Chick peas, Cowpea, Green Gram), nuts (cashew nuts, pea nuts, kottamba) and seeds (jack seeds) contain important nutrients needed for the child’s growth and therefore should be introduced in to the child’s daily diet gradually.
  6. Dark-green leaves and orange / yellow-coloured fruits and vegetables help a child to have healthy eyes and fewer infections and therefore need to be included in the daily diet.
  7. More meals are needed as the child grows older. 
    • A child 7 – 8 months needs 2 – 3 main meals a day. Plus    1 – 2 snacks in between above main meals. 
    • A child 9 – 24 months needs 3 main meals a day. Plus 1 – 2 snacks in between above main meals
Give a variety of foods in these meals.
  1. A growing child needs an increasing amounts of food. Gradually change the consistency from well mashed → coarsely mashed → finger food → nutritious family food by one year of age.
  2. A young child needs to learn how to eat food, different tastes and consistencies and therefore encourage and help eating with lots of patience. 
  3. Encourage the child to drink and eat more during an illness and afterwards, to help recover early and to maintain normal growth.

Introducing (Solid) Foods

This is a general guide for all infants. You can change it according to your baby’s special needs whenever necessary. Amount of a meal, number of meals and the amount of oil added to meals can vary from one baby to another. A good guide is the weight of the baby measured monthly.

After completion of 6 months.

As soon as your baby completes 6 months (180 days) complementary feeding has to be started. This includes solid foods made in to purees (Thalapaya) using rice.

Start with mashed cooked rice (Bath Thalapaya) with some added breast milk. Feed when your baby is hungry. On the first day, give 2-3 teaspoons. Gradually, you’ll be able to increase the amount.

After 3 days add dhal to the rice and cook. (1 table spoon of rice: 1 tea spoon dhal)Mash all together and give 3-4 teaspoons. Instead of dhal you can use green gram or peas as well. Breast feed in between meals.

One week after starting complementary foods you should add Iron rich foods such as sprats, fish, chicken.
Add a variety of vegetables and leafy vegetables as well .e.g pumpkin, Ash plants, potato, sweet potato, Carrot, Thampala, Sarana, Gotukola.
Add one new food item at a time initially. 

Once a day give a fresh fruit such as Banana, Papaw, Avocado, Mango, Melon.( mashed  or  scraped) You can select locally available  fruits -  best is from your own home garden.

Give 2-3 main meals per day.
Breast feed in between meals. Introduce a  cup and offer  sips of water after  meals. This will help your baby to learn to sip and is better for your baby’s teeth. 

After completion of 7 months  

Give mashed food with small particles. 

Rice + dhal + sprats (Ground into small particles) + vegetable+ leafy vegetable  add coconut milk or oil – one  tea spoon to cook.  Instead of oil you can add unsalted butter as well. Make this up to ½ cup (200 ml tea cup can be used as a measure) Give 2-3 main meals.
Gradually increase the size of food particles. This will allow your baby to learn how to chew.

Breast feed in between meals. Give fruits as well (veralu, nelli, guava)

General Feeding Tips

  • Prepare a separate place for  feeding. Allow your baby to observe other family members eating.
  • Talk with baby about taste and colours of food while feeding. 
  • Feed your baby with lots of patience and love so that meal time would become an exciting and pleasurable time for your baby and you.
  • Do not force your baby to eat. Wait until the next time if the baby is not interested this time.
  • If the food is hot, allow it to become cool and test it before giving it to your baby.
  • Do not add salt, sugar or any artificial flavours  to your baby’s food or water used for cooking. Always use clean utensils  and wash your hands before handling food.
  • Always offer fresh and homemade foods to your baby.

At 8-9 months

  • Allow your baby to taste varieties of food. Give 3-4 main meals - amount more than ½ a cup per meal.
  • Give nutritious snacks 1-2 times in between main meals. 

Healthy Snack suggestions 

  1. mash together ¼ Banaba (ripe) or ¼ an Avocado and 1 table spoon yogurt or curd 
  2. Boiled Sweet Potato (medium size) + unsalted butter 1 teaspoon or some scraped coconut 
  3. Hardboiled egg, mashed 
  4. Boiled green gram tempered with  1 tsp  coconut oil  mashed  
It is important to  introduce food particles as well. Therefore do not blend foods using a blender.

Introduce finger foods 

Finger food is food that’s cut in to pieces big enough for your baby to hold using the thumb and forefinger. Your baby learns to chew this way. Boiled vegetable sticks are a healthy start. 

At 9-11 months

  • Give 3-4 main meals,  amount is ¾ cup at each meal.
  • Give 1-2 nutritious  snacks in between main meals
  • Breast feed after meals
  • Baby should be able to eat family foods by the age of one year.

Additional

Watch out. 

  1. Sweet drinks – Do not give fizzy drinks, milkshakes and fruit juices which can have lots of added sugar. Avoid drinks such as tea, coffee. 
  2. Sweet foods like Chocolate, Sweets, Pastries, Cakes , Biscuits have  lots of sugar added. Babies do not  need them. 
  3. Salt and salty food like Bacon, Sausages, Chips, Convenience food, take away foods are not good  for your baby.
  4. The baby can choke on  hard foods, round foods like chick peas and grapes – therefore  peel off the skin and mash before giving.
  5. Your baby may be allergic to certain foods. When introducing a new food give them in small amounts first and watch carefully for any signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction. 

Signs and symptoms of allergy 

  • Runny nose 
  • Skin reaction : blotchy, raised red rashes, itchy patches and swelling around mouth or ears or red and itchy eyes. 
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Stomach upset.
If your baby shows any of the above symptoms seek medical advice immediately. 

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Q) Is it good to give eggs before 9 months?

A) Yes, can start after completion of 6 months of age (Around second – third week after starting complementary food will be alright)

Q) Is it good to give solid foods in the night?

A) Perfectly all right

Q) Should I start formula milk after 6 months?

A) No, you have to continue breast feeding with complementary feeding up to 2 years,

Q) Can my child be fed with normal adult diet after one year? 

A) Yes. You can offer normal balanced adult diet.

Q) How should I feed the child when he is ill?

A) Baby should receive a normal balanced diet as much as possible. You can offer small frequent meals if your child has less appetite during an illness. Give an additional meal after the recovery to maintain the normal weight gain.

Q)  is  it  good  to  feed my child  when he  is  having  diarrhoea?

A) Yes, feed as usual. He should be given solid foods and need higher amounts of liquids as well.