Child Care: Feeding Babies


❖ Breast-feeding: In the initial 4 months, the baby requires only milk (not even water). There is a fine balance by nature between the production of milk and its demand by the baby. More is the milk required by the baby, more it sucks, which is the most potent stimulus for more milk production. So more is the demand, more is the supply.

❖ Milk tins: The correct dilution for powdered milk is 1 scoop in 1ounce=30 cc of water. Due to economic reasons and ignorance, many babies are fed over diluted milk i.e. a “white water” diet, making them “skin and bones.” This is a leading cause of infant deaths in India. No wonder, doctors call infant formulas as “white poison”. Those who cannot afford infant formulas can go for undiluted cow’s milk, as it is much cheaper.

❖ Weaning: The child is put on other foods besides milk, starting at 4 months of age. The child has to cultivate a liking for the texture and the taste of the new food. So, initially the volume of food consumed is less important than the experience of it.

❖ Balanced diet: Calculations for “balancing” the diet in terms of calories and the intake of proteins, fats etc. is not needed as what we eat daily tends to be balanced over a period of time by itself. Health tonics, multivitamins etc. are not recommended.

❖ Feeding dictums: Parents should be ready to accept some mess while the child is eating. Self-feeding should be encouraged. Mealtimes should be of a finite duration (20-30 minutes). The mealtime must not become a battleground (between the mother and child). Child’s wishes regarding eating should be respected and he should not be pressurised to eat.

❖ Poor eating: Why do so many children eat poorly? Because parents force them to eat by threats, bribes etc. This problem is non-existent in the simple, uneducated people who live in villages, because the mothers in such populations are hardly bothered about the amount of food consumed by their children. They do not pressurise the child to eat and so they eat well. Pressure makes an activity unenjoyable. Almost all children eat better at neighbours than at home. Why? Because over there, there is no one monitoring their “eating performance” with “an eagle eye” on them. A golden dictum is that a child will never self-starve. Once you realise this fundamental fact, you will not force the child to eat more. If you leave the child completely free knowing that the child will not starve himself, the child will relish eating as he now enjoys it. Try to make the child eat well, he won’t. Don’t try and he will eat well.

❖ Self-feeding: A familiar scenario in many households is that of a hapless mother running around to feed the child with a spoon in her hand. The habit of “spoon feeding” makes the child dependent on you. It is O.K. to feed a child till 1 year, but after that self-feeding should be strongly inculcated in the child. You have to be firm with yourself (that you are not going to “spoon-feed”).

❖ Fooling at the table: Some children indulge in meal time misbehaviours like getting up and down from the table, playing with the food etc. An effective management technique for such behaviour is to terminate the meal calmly when playing with the food exceeds the eating (regardless of how much the child has consumed).

❖ Weight of a child: There is a range of normalcy rather than a fixed “set point”. For e.g. a 1 year child’s normal range of weight is 8-12 kg. If you see a 8 kg baby and if you see a 12 kg baby (i.e. having 50% more weight), you may perceive a substantial difference in their built; but actually both of them are normal and neither of them is undernourished.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *