The nutritional life of the infant actually begins during the prenatal period and is subjected to influence even earlier. A human infant completely depends on his parents, especially mother for his food and care. The proper well being and growth of an infant is influenced by maternal nutrition not only at the time of pregnancy but much prior to that. Food provides the energy and nutrients that babies need to be healthy. And the best food required by the infant is the breast milk. Its has all the necessary vitamins and minerals which an infant is in need of.
The healthy well fed infant doubles his birth weight during the first six months. The birth weight triples by the time he is twelve months old. All babies do not grow at the same rate. There is nothing to worry as long as there is a steady weight gain.
The breast milk is considered to be bacteriologically safe and provides immunological protections. By breastfeeding her newly born infant, a mother will pass on some of her own immunities to infections the baby who can be exposed to during the first few weeks of life. For this a mother has to consume a balanced diet that would help her to produce healthy breast milk.
The increase in the number of brain cells is most rapid during foetal life and during the first 6 months after birth. The brain develops rapidly during infancy.
The growth and development of a child is marked by specific \'milestones\' as follows:
3-5 months - Rolling over
6 months - Sitting without support
7-8 months - Crawling
10-11 months - Standing without support
12-14 months - Toddling
Weaning and Supplementary foods :
Weaning is the process by which an infant\'s dietary pattern is gradually changed from liquid foods like breastmilk to other semi solid food items. This is a pattern to make the child get accustomed gradually an the adult diet. As the nutritional requirement of an infant increases after some months the production of breast milk decreases.this is the time when weaning foods are to be supplemented to the child.
It is important to start with liquid foods and progress throug semi-solid foods to solid foods.
\'When\' to introduce \'What\'
Age of baby
Fruit juices (to provide vitamin C)
* Cereal flours in the form of porridges.
* Pre cooked cereals in milk.
* Steamed and mashed banana.
* Cooked and mashed potato/carrot.
* Cooked rice mashed with curd.
* Cooked rice mashed with dal.
* Boiled egg yolk.
* Fruits such as mango,pappaya which do not require
* Boiled or steamed fish
*Biscuits(since the gums need exercise)
*Toast, raw carrot
All solid foods can be introduced.
By the time the baby is one year old, he should be introduced to all types of food- cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat, fish etc. And be made accustomed to family dietary pattern.
One such common weaning recipe for infants is Ragi Porridge (3 months):
Ragi flour – 15 gms
Milk – 2 oz
Water – 6 oz
sugar – 2 tsp
1. Roast ragi flour for 1-2 minutes. Remove from fire.
2. Make a smooth paste of ragi flour with cold water. Then add the rest of the water and mix well.
3. Heat the mixture with constant stirring until it boils.
4. Remove from fire. Add sugar and previously boiled milk and blend well.