Last Updated on May 16, 2017

Introduction to Baby Foods

Gradual introduction of liquid, soft and solid foods to an infant after 6 months of age along with usual milk feeds is called 'complementary feeding'. It is a transition from exclusive breastfeeding to family foods. Such a transition takes place because 'breastfeeding alone' does not meet the nutritional needs of an infant.

World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that infants should be exclusively breast-fed for the first 6 months of life and then complementary foods should be introduced. Infants who are formula milk fed should also be introduced to complementary foods at 6 months of age.

Complementary Feeding

  • As your baby cannot eat at one go, meals should be energy dense and small in portion size. Ghee/ oil/ unsalted butter and sugar/ jaggery can be added to meals to increase its calorie content without increasing the overall volume of the meal
  • The consistency of foods should be thick to provide more calories from small portion size
  • Complementary foods should be balanced and foods from all food groups must be included
  • Small snacks should be introduced between two meals, however snacks should not replace meals. Please note, biscuits and chips are not a snack option for your baby
  • Consumption of seasonal fruits and vegetables should be encouraged
  • Sugary drinks, tea and coffee should not be given to infants due to its low nutritive value
  • Homemade food preparation made out of cereal and pulse combination in the ratio 2:1 should be given to infants. Such preparations are economical and can be easily made at home under hygienic conditions

Importance of Nutritious Foods in your Baby's Growth and Development

A baby gains triple the amount of weight at the end of their first year as compared to their birth weight. A balanced and wholesome diet during infancy and childhood is the pillar of healthy adulthood.

Poor nutrition during this phase lowers overall immunity and baby may get more prone to infections and diseases. It can further negatively affect the growth and development of the baby.

Research has found that poor nutrition during childhood impairs intellectual performance. Women who were malnourished during childhood can have a negative impact on their reproductive health later in life.

Malnutrition during first 2 years of life can lead to stunting. Such a child when he/she turns into an adult will be shorter than his potential height.

Best Nutritious Foods for your Baby

The rate of growth and development of an infant depends on the complementary feeding period. The type of food consumed, consistency of food and composition of the entire meal influences the overall health of a baby. Here are the best 5 foods for your baby:


Avocado is a fruit with high amount of healthy fat and dietary fiber. Avocados are an amazing source of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), a healthy fat which is essential for the growth and development of the brain and central nervous system.

Avocado Promotes Growth & Brain Development

Fat present in avocado is further required for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K.

Avocado contains 'linoleic acid' which is associated with optimal growth of infants. In addition to this, avocado contains dietary fiber (30 grams of avocado contains 2 grams of fiber) that helps in healthy bowel movement and prevents constipation.

For babies up to 10 months old a smooth avocado puree can be given. Once the baby turns more than 10 months old, avocado can be given in the mashed form.

Sweet Potato

Studies have found that sweet potato is a wholesome food for infants. Its natural sweet taste makes it perfect for babies.

Sweet potato is a dense source of energy. 100 grams of sweet potatoes contain 90 calories. Such a calorie count makes it favorable for healthy growth and development of the baby.

Sweet potato is loaded with nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

Vitamin A is important for the growth of cells and healthy development of eyes. It further enhances the immune system and protects your baby against infections.

Potassium and magnesium prevent weakness of muscles and improve the overall health of muscles and bones.

Besides this, it is a good source of dietary fiber. Eating fiber-rich foods will keep your baby's gut healthy.

Sweet potato can be given in the form of puree to infants who are 8 months or above. After 1 year of age, small pieces of sweet potato can be given.

Nutrient Rich Sweet Potato

Cereal-Pulse Mixture

Homemade cereal-pulse mixture in the ratio of 2:1 should be given to babies 3 to 4 times a day.

How to prepare such a mixture at home:

  • Soak cereals and pulses for 8 hours or overnight
  • Drain excess water and germinate it for 24 to 48 hours
  • Once germination is completed, sun-dry it for 5-8 hours or roast it
  • Grind this mixture to form a powder
  • Store in an air-tight container
  • Add 2 teaspoons of this mixture to porridges or cook it with milk or water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar can also be added to enhance the taste

Cereals and pulses do not contain all the amino acids (building blocks of protein), thus they are not a complete source of protein. However, when combined they serve as a source of complete protein.

Protein is very important during infancy for adequate growth of the baby. Low protein diets do not promote weight gain and can negatively affect health of the baby.

Give Your Baby a Protein-rich Diet

Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are supercharged with vitamins such as vitamin A, C, K and folic acid. It also contains minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium.

Its high vitamin A content improves vision health and prevents damage to the eye. Both vitamin A and vitamin C fights infection and boosts immunity.

Vitamin K strengthens the bones, whereas potassium and magnesium help the muscles to become strong.

Thus, green leafy vegetables are extremely important for your little one.

Since, green leafy vegetables are rich in fiber, it is sufficient to initially feed your baby the juice. Providing a diet which is too rich in dietary fiber can cause diarrhea. You can serve these vegetables in the form of puree by 8 to 10 months of age.


Studies have revealed that banana is a superfood for your baby. Bananas are easy to digest and they do not put any stress on the baby's stomach. In fact, banana consumption is encouraged during gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea.

It is packed with an array of nutrients such as vitamin A, thiamine (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), folic acid (vitamin B9) and vitamin E. Banana, is also a concentrated source of energy and thus it promotes overall growth and development.

You can feed your baby mashed banana. Some milk can be added to make it more smooth.

Banana Aids the Babys Digestive System


  1. Age at Weaning and Infant Growth: Primary Analysis and Systematic Review - (
  2. The Role of Avocados in Complementary and Transitional Feeding - (
  3. Complementary feeding - (
  4. Can infants and young children eat enough green leafy vegetables from a single traditional meal to meet their daily vitamin A requirements? - (
  5. Childrens Consumption of Dark Green, Leafy Vegetables with Added Fat Enhances Serum Retinol - (
  6. Increased food intake after the addition of amylase-rich flour to supplementary food for malnourished children in rural communities of Bangladesh - (
  7. Protein quality of weaning foods based on locally available cereal and pulse combination - (
  8. Dietary Guidelines For Indians - (

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