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Starting solids for babies


We did annaprashan when my baby was 5months and a week old, that is because we had to do the ceremony choosing an auspicious day (as per Hindu calendar);  It was just a drop of kheer given to him.  I started solids only after A completed 6 months. My doctor gave me a list of first foods and how weekly to try and introduce different stuff. Initial foods were mushy ones like banana, steamed apple and porridges of all sorts. I had dates and bit of jaggery to substitute sugar; and for flavours I would add garlic and other mild spices like coriander powder and turmeric.
When a baby is born, there is a sudden flood of advice and information. Everybody suddenly becomes a teacher, treating you like the stupidest student. The myths and facts that a new mom is confronted with can get overwhelming. However learned and abreast with the trends we are, we do tend to fall for many of the myths and false guidance. It is important that we as parents take a stand  and make our choices, especially when it comes to food, based on research rather than having a random stranger or relatives and friends for that matter, throw their idea or opinion on us. What goes in my baby’s mouth is first approved by me; as a parent I have to decide what he eats and what he doesn’t.
I have jotted down here few things that one could keep in mind while they start weaning off their baby.

Annaprashan
The first-food ceremony

Things to keep in mind while starting solids

1.    The baby should be able to sit and hold the head steady. My baby started sitting unsupported in his 8th month, however I would always make him sit upright on my lap or in his high chair during meal times. This basically is to avoid choking instances.
2.      The baby should have lost the tongue thrust (swallowing purees and liquids while pushing out solids)
3.      Should have ideally doubled the birth-weight
4.      Breastmilk remains the primary source of nutrition for the baby till he/she reaches 1 year mark; so, don’t stress if what you offer is often rejected (which generally happens).
5.       Don’t drop breastfeeds; as said earlier, breastmilk still remains the main source of nutrition.
6.      Ensure that baby is sitting upright while eating; appropriate sitting posture reduces the chances of choking. Never feed solids while baby is lying down.
7.      Try to avoid sugar completely and add salt as little as you can, better to avoid if you can; as babies’ system is not mature to digest these. Also for babies, the sodium requirements are very nominal and are met by other sources such as fruits/vegetables etc.
8.      Honey may lead to  infant botulism (a fatal condition), so it isn’t recommended for babies under 1year.
9.      Any milk (other than breast/formula) should be avoided uptil 1 year. Dairy products and dishes from milk, like homemade paneer, curd, kheer etc can be offered 
10.  Avoid introducing any distraction while feeding. Tablets/ TV will only make your job difficult in long run.
      11.  Do not worry about the mess that is created during meal times. Let the baby feel various  textures and enjoy the meal timings
12.   A high chair or booster could prove to be a good investment.
13.  Avoid packaged food products like instant foods, biscuits, noodles, bournvita, etc. These are highly processed and contain many preservatives and chemicals which aren’t good for babies.
14. Try making the baby eat with all the family members; that way they eat well and of course it helps in family bonding too.


In order to make an informed choice, I have been talking to other mothers, doctors, support groups and reading enough online. To support these points, below are the links, most of which are internationally recognized associations/bodies.
1.   Baby’s readiness
3.   Do not drop breastfeeds, as said