WHAT I FED MY BABY?

This is Anwesha; a new mom. I am someone who has enjoyed every moment of my pregnancy along with some teething issues after delivery. I stressed and hyper ventilated and sometimes felt utter bliss. There were days I drove my husband crazy. I call myself the “Imperfect Mom”. I am documenting some part of my journey

Today, I am here to share with you about what I fed my baby for the first six months. If you read on, you may also discover a few life hacks that I learned along the way. Again, as I had mentioned previously, I am in no way a professional and whatever I write is my own experience.

Feeding the baby becomes central to a new mom’s existence.

For two and a half months, I solely fed my daughter with breastmilk. As breastmilk with immune-system boosting antibodies and growth factors aid the baby’s overall health and development, I was feeding her 8-12 times everyday in an interval of about three hours. I made sure to feed her from both the sides. This was to ensure that she had access to enough during each feed. Also, your breast tends to get hard and starts to pain if you keep feeding from just one side. As advised by my pediatrician, I avoided giving her water during this period. Babies don’t really have a need for water to stay hydrated. In fact, it can fill them up which can curb their daily appetite and compromise with their nutritional needs.

I started expressing milk when she was around two and a half months old. My maternity leave was coming to an end. I wanted to make sure she had enough time to adjust to expressed and bottled milk. However, she was smart enough to know the difference between her mother and a bottle. It was difficult for me to get her adjusted during first few weeks. She would make quite a fuss and spit out the liquid but with time she started to adjust to the new mix.

By the third month, as I started working again, she was more or less adjusted to expressed milk. My pediatrician suggested me to pump an average portion of about 10-12 ounces, as I was to stay away from her for a long 10 hours. This became a really painful and difficult task for me, as I was unable to express the required amount. This made me feel guilty and depressed as I thought I was unable to provide for my baby’s needs. Since she was already used to consuming expressed milk from a bottle, I decided to top feed her with formula milk as well.

Month four and my daughter was being fed both expressed and formula milk. Assuming that your baby is having 10 feeds throughout the day, you can develop a schedule where you can alternate between top feed and expressed milk. As for my daughter, out of 8-9 feeds I was feeding her 3-4 times with top feed. It is suggested that you mix the formula milk with boiled and sterilized water. You can also feed your child a few spoonsful of boiled water while top feeding. Avoid direct tap water as it might carry contaminants.

I bought a sterilizer, bottle cleaning liquid, brush and an old-fashioned big pan to boil the bottles. Remember, after sterilizing, the bottle needs to be kept with the lid and teat on. Keep it in a clean container and put it in the fridge, if not using right away. If you are using after 24 hours, boil or sterilize it again.

Young mothers should keep in mind to avoid cow’s milk in the initial months. Babies cannot digest cow’s milk as easily as formula milk. The high concentration of proteins and minerals present in it, can create stress and weaken your baby’s immune system and cause anemia, fever and diarrhea.

While top feeding my daughter, I noticed an interesting pattern. She developed an affinity for the formula milk and started to reject expressed milk. She would off course latch onto me and feed on directly when I was at home. I didn’t know till than that babies could actually distinguish taste.

A baby should be fed mother’s milk for the first 12 months. Mother’s milk has high contents of immunoglobin A [IgA] and several other antibodies. Therefore, breastfed babies build immunity to diseases and infections.

By the time she was five and a half months, I introduced my daughter to some grown up food. Attention here, mothers! By grown up food I don’t mean dal, roti or chicken.

Babies start to develop teeth after 6 months. So, if in case you are feeding them food, you need to ensure that your baby can digest it. As for my daughter, I started out by giving her boiled dal water and mashed rice. I would occasionally throw in a few vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, beans, and broccoli. But I ensured that it was boiled perfectly. I did not add any salt in the diet as well. I also avoided non-vegetarian food, poultry and dairy products.

Here are a few solid food recipes to feed your baby:

    • Boil the vegetables you want to add and make a puree. Avoid spices
    • Boil carrot, potato, rice and dal together. Blend and make a smooth puree. Add in a little water. Feed it while it’s lukewarm
    • Remove apple peels and chop it into pieces. Cook in pressure cooker up to 5 whistles. Blend into a smooth creamy texture. Feed while it’s lukewarm.

I kept the diet very basic and didn’t want to try out unnecessary experiments that might end up hampering my child’s health. For example, it is known that feeding a child with honey before the first birthday can cause botulism, which is a fatal foodborne disease caused by a type of bacteria that is commonly found in soil.

Till your baby is six months old, it is important to restrict his/her/their diet for safety purpose. Always consult with a professional and do a proper research before trying out something new. Since a baby has no way of communicating its needs and wants, one must be very attentive and cautious while deciding what to feed them.

A FEW TIPS:

    • Look out for signs such as crying, sucking on thumb. It usually means your baby is hungry. If you are thinking of trying out something new, now is the right time!
    • If your baby is making a fuss and turning away from the bottle, then try burping your baby and wait for a few minutes before giving them the bottle again.
    • Make funny sounds and faces to keep your baby occupied while feeding them. this will keep them occupied and less likely to cry or spit the food out.
    • Avoid feeding your baby too much just because YOU THINK that they need to be fed.

Here’s a baby weight chart

  • Develop a feeding schedule that is to be followed by your care-taker.
  • Is my baby getting the right nutrition? Am I doing it right? How to know if your baby is healthy?
  • Always make sure to get regular checkups done. If your baby is having continuous bowel movements, rejecting food or vomiting it might mean that they have some underlying problems that can be fatal in the future. Keep regular updates and records to see how your baby reacts to something new.

Did you know?

In several parts of India, there are elaborate customs and rituals, for example, Annaprasan, that marks an infant’s first intake of solid food other than their mother’s milk. It still remains an important ceremony that is conducted in modern India. Normally, it is held when a child is 6-8 months old; usually, odd months for girls and even for boys. However, mostly it is conducted after a baby develops its teeth. It is an occasion of great importance and many people including extended families, friends and even neighbors are invited.

With that we come to an end of this blog. Hope you find this useful. Until next time! Take care!

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