Guide to Introducing Breast Milk Complementary Foods for Babies

Guide to Introducing Breast Milk Complementary Foods for Babies

Giving complementary foods to breast milk or the first complementary food for babies should not be done haphazardly. There are several things that need to be considered, starting from the readiness to eat your little one, the type of food given, to the proper way of giving complementary foods.

The first complementary feeding to babies needs to be done correctly. The reason is, if complementary food is given in the wrong amount, composition, and time, the baby can actually find it difficult to eat. As a result, the baby's nutritional intake is not fulfilled, so that their health and growth and development are disrupted.

Good Complementary Feeding Strategies According to Doctor's Recommendations

There are 4 points that need to be considered in giving the first complementary food to babies, namely:

1. Baby's readiness

The first complementary food can be given when the baby is 6 months old. At that age, the digestive system is developed enough to be able to digest solid food properly. Giving solid foods, such as banana porridge, rice porridge, or even packaged baby porridge, before the baby reaches the age of 6 months tends to be dangerous because the baby is not ready to accept it.

In addition to age, your child's readiness to receive solid food can be seen from the following signs:
  • Likes to put hands or toys in mouth.
  • Already able to sit and hold his head in an upright position, although he still needs a backrest to hold his body.
  • Interested when you see someone eating, for example by making an "aah" sound or trying to reach for a spoon or food that Mom or Dad is holding.
  • There is a response from the Little One by opening his mouth when given food or a spoon.
  • Can reach for food and put it in mouth.

2. Type of food provided

Complementary food must contain balanced nutrition so that it can provide all the nutrients needed by babies, namely carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The first complementary food should start with mashed food or it could be watery food that has been filtered.

Gradually, you can change the texture of the food that was originally thinner or liquid to become denser. The following are the stages of the first complementary food that can be given to babies:

Baby special porridge

Special baby porridge or baby cereal is one type of early solid food that is practical and easy to make. To enrich your little one's nutritional intake, you can mix baby porridge or cereal with breast milk or formula.

Vegetable and fruit complementary food

Every now and then Mother can give the Little One boiled or steamed vegetables. Some good types of vegetables to give as complementary foods include potatoes, broccoli, carrots, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
Not only vegetables, certain fruits, such as melons, apples, avocados, bananas, and papayas, are also good to be given as complementary foods for babies.

Finger food

Finger food is food that is cut into small pieces to the size of a mother's finger so that it is easy for the baby to grip and eat. Mother can give the Little One pieces of ripe banana or avocado as finger food. However, finger food is usually only allowed to be given to babies from the age of 9-12 months.

Advanced food

If you are used to eating solid food and your little one enjoys it, try giving other foods, such as rice, bread, tofu, tempeh, boiled eggs, and fish and meat. This type of food can be given to your little one at the age of 9 months.

What you need to remember is that the food still needs to be cooked until it is soft or finely chopped so that it is easier for your little one to eat it and not choke.

Mothers are also recommended to teach your little one to drink directly from a cup or glass when starting to give solid food. This will train his ability to drink, as well as good for the growth of his teeth.

When giving your baby solid food, you are advised not to add sugar, salt, or flavoring. As an alternative, you can give food ingredients that can add to the taste of solid food, such as garlic, lemon, or spices that taste mild.

3. Frequency and number of complementary foods

Initially, the baby is fed at least 2-3 times a day, with 1 snack. However, after the age of 8-9 months, babies have started to eat 3 times a day. At the age of 12 months and over, babies are able to eat 3-4 times a day.

While the recommended initial amount of solid food is about 2-3 tablespoons. Furthermore, Mother can increase the portion of complementary food gradually according to the appetite of the Little One.

4. Do not force the baby to eat

Giving complementary food must be in a responsive way, meaning that mothers are advised to give complementary food when your little one is hungry and stop giving it when he is full or refuses to eat. To make it easier, Mothers are advised to give your little one regular complementary foods according to their eating schedule.

The introduction of food usually takes a short time. Therefore, the mother must be patient and do not force the little one to finish the food. If this time he is not interested, try again another time.

Feeding the baby should be slow and not rushed, so that he does not choke. If your little one shows an interest in eating on their own, give them the occasional chance to eat with their hands.

Also provide a variety of choices of flavors and types of healthy food so that your little one can get to know more flavors and train them so they don't become 'picky eaters'. Also make sure the food given to your little one is always clean, fresh, and not too hot.

One thing that mothers need to understand is that this complementary food is a companion and not to replace the intake of breast milk or formula as the baby's main source of daily nutrition. Therefore, continue to breastfeed your baby until he is 2 years old.

If you want to know more about how to give the first complementary food to your little one or are still confused about starting to introduce solid food, don't hesitate to ask or consult a pediatrician.