All your baby needs for the first six months is breast milk but as she grows and becomes more active, breast milk alone is no longer sufficient.
She needs complementary foods to fill the everwidening gap between her nutritional needs and the amounts provided by breast milk. Failure to fill this gap can lead to malnutrition.
Ask yourself these questions to see if you’ve been feeding your baby right:
Did you start giving your baby complementary foods at six months?
Failure to start at six months deprives your baby of the extra food she needs to fill her energy and nutrient gaps. Your baby may grow less rapidly or even stop growing. Her risk of becoming undernourished and developing micronutrient deficiencies also increases.
Are you still breastfeeding after introducing new foods to your baby?
Breast milk is still a crucial part of your baby’s diet. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that you breastfeed while giving other foods for up to two years.
Are you slowly increasing the amount of complementary foods given to your baby?
Give complementary foods 3 times a day at 6 to 12 months, 5 times a day at 12 to 24 months. This includes nutritious snacks once or twice a day on top of breastfeeding. As you increase the number of times you feed baby in a day, you should also increase the amount of complementary foods given as she grows.
Do you offer your baby nutrient-rich foods every day?
While your active baby needs energy from ‘staple’ carbohydrate foods like rice, cereals and mashed potatoes, she should also eat nutrient-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish and eggs; beans, peas, lentils and milk products; as well as fruits and vegetables every day.
Do you give your baby a wide variety of foods?
At six months, introduce new foods in stages (one at a time, with at least four days in between) to give time for baby to get used to them and to help identify allergic responses. The types of foods you give baby should increase in variety as she approaches her first birthday. The more variety she gets, the more she can meet her nutrient needs. If she dislikes certain foods, try cooking them differently. That way, she will not be deprived of the nutrients from that particular food.
TELL-TALE SIGNS OF MALNUTRITION
Is baby’s weight stagnant or declining? Does he fall sick easily? Is baby looking pale and becoming less active and less responsive to his surroundings? If you recognise any of these signs, do consult your doctor. He can help you determine the cause and ensure that baby gets foods that are nutritious and offered in the right amounts and in the right way.