Updated: Jun 6, 2021
Till a baby is 6 months of age, all that the baby needs is breast milk and it is more than enough for them. Suddenly, once they cross 5 months you feel breast milk may not be enough and babies keep asking for more and more milk. People around you are saying that the baby needs food, your milk is not enough, give this, give that and you are thinking about it so much that you tend to give up on milk and start on food.
Should you stop breastfeeding the baby after 6 months?
NO. Doctors say that until a baby is a year old, breast milk has all the necessary nutrients for the baby’s growth. But, the quantity of milk production may reduce in mothers and it may not be enough for the baby. So, they advise you to start on first foods once a baby is 6 months of age. This does not mean you stop feeding the baby. Mother’s hormones work on a demand and supply basis, for example, the more the demand from your baby, the more milk is produced by your hormones. If the demand decreases, supply also decreases. This means you have to continue to feed your baby for at least a year unless some unavoidable scenario occurs. Remember, breast milk is the BEST gift you can give your baby.
Here are some of the first foods to start with -
Ragi milk porridge
Fresh local seasonal fruit puree (there are many fruits available. It is more than enough to cover your baby’s meal plan)
Porridge powder made at home.
Things you need to remember -
Start with one meal a day. Introduce First Foods in the morning so that, if any indigestion/allergies can be handled for the rest of the day.
DO NOT introduce new foods in the evening or night. This might cause disturbed sleep in babies. Also, if there is any indigestion/allergies caused by food, the night is not a good time to deal with this. You and your baby need a good night’s sleep.
DO NOT force-feed your child. Every child is different and by forcing them to eat, you might end up losing your cool and the whole process might turn into a stressful event.
Not every child is ready to eat after 5 months, some babies start showing signs of eating food, late. Signs that a baby might show - your baby’s mouth might start watering when food is around or starts to lick their lips, try to grab the food, they start jumping with joy when you get the food. But, there is no generic rule, you have got to try different methods.
DO NOT add salt/sugar/jaggery or any other taste enhancers till they reach 1 year. They need to get used to different tastes of food. By adding enhancers, you tamper with the natural taste of food.
DO NOT give citrus fruits, seeded fruits like guava, watermelon till they are 1 year of age. As it may be difficult for them to digest. Watermelon has 90% water and your baby needs natural fats.
Doctors say that, for a baby to dislike a food, you should have offered the same food at least 10 times! This means you keep trying every single time. Only after they reject the food you have offered so many times, you can say that they dislike it, till then keep trying in different ways.
If you are making porridge/puree, keep the consistency slightly thicker than milk. As babies are used to drinking milk, when other foods are introduced, they might not recognize it as food initially. Also helps them in swallowing if the consistency is close to milk.
No matter what kind of food you give them, babies crave mother’s milk. They feel satisfied after they drink breast milk. So, do not stop feeding immediately after you have started First Foods.
Always prepare the food fresh. Try not to refrigerate or freeze them. Avoid heating the food in the oven for babies. Always taste before you feed your baby.
Happy Parenting ...