Myths And Facts On Weaning Foods

National nutrition week: myths and facts on weaning foods

National nutrition week is a health initiative by the Government of India to raise awareness on nutrition. It is celebrated each year from 1st to 7th September and is aimed at raising awareness about the importance of nutrition at all the stages of life. The theme for this year is \”feeding smart right from the start\”. This theme is aimed at emphasizing on the importance of nutrition during infancy and childhood. As this stage forms the pillar of overall health of an individual in the later stages of life, it is of utmost importance. Nutrition in the first 6 months in the form of exclusive breastfeeding can be the most wisest decision by a mother. It not only provides immunity in those early days but also provides protection towards a host of other diseases during adulthood. It is evident through several researches that kids who are breastfed exclusively for first 6 months are less prone to allergies and infections than kids who are not. After the completion of 6 months starts the weaning process (initiating foods in addition to mothers milk). This is the stage which comes with confusion, at times intrusion by senior family members coupled with lack of education in selection of correct weaning foods. There are several myths associated with weaning and on account of national nutrition week we would like to address these myths and also highlight the related facts:
  • Myth: Packaged baby food is healthy and nutritious for the infant.
Fact: Packaged baby food is completely unwanted as it can be prepared at home without additives. Even in cases when there is no access to cooking separate baby food, one can directly start with adult food like rice/ pulao/ khichdi/ vegetable khichdi/ veg dalia, etc rather than feeding packaged baby foods. One should consult an expert to make healthy baby foods at home which can prove to be extremely nutritious and provide adequate growth and development.
  • Myth: Rice water (also known as kanji/ pej) is a good weaning feed.
Fact: Infants need calories during their growing stage and neither rice water nor any other water can provide healthy calories. Instead, cooked rice is a better weaning food option.
  • Myth: Soups are a healthy option to be fed 4-5 times a day.
Fact: Soups are healthy when freshly made, however they do not impart any proteins for them to be used repeatedly throughout the day. In order to make them more healthy and to be given more than 2 times a day, one can add cooked dal – rice or cooked khichdi to soups. One should avoid adding thickening agents like cornflour or cornstarch.
  • Myth: All foods should be given in pureed form.
Fact: Infants do not need to be fed food in pureed forms. They can tolerate well cooked food like rice, pulao, vegetables, etc
  • Myth: Starchy vegetables may not be tolerated well by infants.
Fact: All vegetables are good sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber and all starchy vegetables are an additional source of calories. They should be well washed and cooked before feeding. They are a healthy option as finger foods. Also, they should not be peeled; they can be given with skin to infants.
  • Myth: Infants should be given higher amount of fats in each feed for better growth.
Fact: Fats like oil and ghee are essential for growth but not in excessive amount. They do not need to be added into each and every feed.
  • Myth: Non-veg food items should not be fed as they may not be tolerated well.
Fact: Infants can be given non-veg food items in small quantities like boiled egg, shredded chicken, etc. As they are good sources of proteins, they play an important role in growth and development.
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