Choose appropriate complementary feeding at appropriate time period for your babies.

In infants up to the age of six months, Breast milk universally provides the ideal food meeting all nutritional requirements up to six months of age. When Breast milk is no longer enough to meet the nutritional needs of the infant’s complementary foods should be introduced. The transition from exclusive breast feeding to family foods refers as complementary feeding, typically covers the period from 6 to 18-24 months of age, even though breast feeding may contribute to two years of age and beyond. This is a critical period to infants, as the growth and development and growth is relatively high during this period.

Breast feeding provides sufficient amounts of nutrients until the age of 6 months for most infants. (In 1998 WHO report on complementary feeding in developing countries, it was recommended that full- term infants be exclusive breast feeding to about 6 months of age). There is almost universal agreement that solids should not be started before the age of four months and that they should not be delayed much beyond the age of six months.

Six months of age is suitable time for most infants to begin to adopt to different foods, food textures and modes feeding. Gradual inclusion of solid foods allows an infant to become used to different foods and textures. The reasons for introducing solid foods at 6 months as infants   nutritional requirements are generally no longer satisfied by breast milk. Now stores of several nutrients for example Zinc and Iron are often falling, the development of feeding behaviors has progressed from suckling to biting and chewing. The digestive system matures now and most infants have developed an interest in their environment, and this prompts a willingness to accept new textures and flavors.

Introducing solid foods too early also can cause problems. Such as if the less time is spent on the breast, maternal milk production may decline because of reduced stimulation, food allergies can develop, exposure to pathogens present in foods can cause increased rates of diarrheal disease and other problems ……. Etc.

Introducing solid foods too later also can cause problems. The growth can fatter because breast milk alone is insufficient after six months. Immune system can be compromised. Micro nutrient deficiencies, especially of Iron and Zinc can develop. Optimal development of motor skills such as chewing can be delayed and the infant may be unwilling to accept new taste and textures.

Introducing solid foods in thick form enough to stay in the spoon give more energy and nutrients to the child there by facilitating growth. So that we can add oil, coconut milk, butter to prepare food will increase the energy density of the food. Introducing foods of animal origin (sprats, fish, chicken, meat, organ meats like liver) is essential for healthy growth and brain development.  These will provide easily bio-available nutrients such as Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Protein…..etc. .Legumes (Dhal, Beans, Chick peas, Cowpea, Green gram) nuts and seeds contain important nutrients needed for the child’s growth and therefore should be introduce into the child’s daily diet gradually.

Introducing solid foods in thick form enough to stay in the spoon give more energy and nutrients to the child there by facilitating growth. So that we can add oil, coconut milk, butter to prepare food will increase the energy density of the food. Introducing foods of animal origin (sprats, fish, chicken, meat, organ meats like liver) is essential for healthy growth and brain development.  These will provide easily bio-available nutrients such as Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Protein…..etc. .Legumes (Dhal, Beans, Chick peas, Cowpea, Green gram) nuts and seeds contain important nutrients needed for the child’s growth and therefore should be introduce into the child’s daily diet gradually.

Currently, WHO recommends that mothers/caregivers of infants younger than two years follow the responsive feeding practice, which employs the principles of psycho social care. This practice includes respect for the physiological mechanism that self-regulates the appetite in infants, helping them to feed until they feel satiated, and requires that mothers/caregivers be aware of the signs of hunger and satiety expressed by the infants. Infants should be fed slowly and patiently until they feel satiated; they should never be force-fed. Meals should be pleasant, with emotional exchange between the person who feeds and the infant, using eye contact, touching, smiling and talking. If infants refuse to eat several foods, different combinations, flavors, and textures should be attempted, and besides, noncoercive ways to encourage them to eat and that do not divert their attention during the meal should be used. There is some evidence that active feeding improves food ingestion and the infant’s nutritional status, and development.

The small amount of complementary foods initially offered should be gradually increased with age. The amount and frequency of foods should be based on infant’s acceptance, which varies according to individual needs, the amount of breastmilk ingested and the content of complementary foods. The infant should be encouraged to eat until he/she feels satiated.

Contaminated complementary foods are the major route of transmission of diarrhea among infants. For this reason, the higher incidence of diarrhea in the second semester of life coincides with the increase in the intake of these foods. Proper maternal practices regarding the management, preparation, administration and storage of complementary foods may reduce their contamination. Safe food hygiene practices include the following: those who handle the food, during preparation or feeding, should wash their hands properly with soap and water, after using the toilet and before meals, and the infant’s hands should be washed likewise; kitchen utensils and cooking surfaces should be kept clean; only healthy-looking foods should be used and they should be kept in a safe place; an amount of food that suffices one meal only should be prepared and it should be served immediately after preparation; the infant should be fed from a glass or cup, spoon and plate, avoiding the use of baby bottles; infants should not be given leftovers from the previous meal; and, if using a fridge, it should be cleaned regularly and any spoilt foods should be thrown away.

Proper complementary feeding for breastfed infants is crucial for their optimal growth and development. Food and nutritional safety implies the guaranteed right to permanent access to food, feeding with adequate quantity and quality, health feeding practices and respect for the cultural characteristics of each people. It is the responsibility of health professionals to pass on the current information about proper infant feeding, with the aim of promoting the optimal growth and development of infants. This article presents national and international recommendations for the promotion of healthy complementary feeding. The challenge is to be able to convey them in an efficient way to the population and especially to mothers and caregivers. Therefore, choose suitable complementary foods at appropriate time period inorder to maintain a good health status of your child.

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