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Complementary Feeding

Introduction

Introduce complementary foods to your baby beginning at their six months of age, while continuing breastfeeding on demand until he or she is two years old.

Complementary feeding is defined as the process of giving your baby other foods and liquids in addition to breast milk. At six months of age, breast milk alone is no longer sufficient to meet your baby’s nutritional requirements. they need additional nutrients for his or her growth and development.

Starting from the age of 6 months, the nerves and muscles in your baby’s mouth has developed sufficiently to let him munch, bite, and chew. the baby’s digestive system has also matured enough to digest a range of food.

Good complementary foods

  • Complementary foods should contain all the nutrients needed by your baby especially foods containing protein, fats, calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C. this can be achieved by referring to the Malaysian Food Guide Pyramid. It illustrates the importance of balance among food group in a daily eating pattern. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products should be given frequently.
  • Animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs should be given daily because they are the main sources of iron and zinc. Avoid giving egg white to infants because it might cause allergic reactions to them.
  • Milk and milk products are rich sources of calcium and provide other essential nutrients for the whole first year of life.
  • Add various fruits to infants ‘daily diet especially vitamin A and vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables.

Readiness for complementary food

When your baby reach 6 months old, he/she will be ready to eat solids when he/she signs shows as follows:

  • He/she can hold his/her head up.
  • He/she can sit up, supported by your/ caregiver’s arm or the back of a chair.
  • He/she makes “munching” motions when there’s nothing in his/her mouth.
  • He/she likes to bring his/her hand and toys to his/her mouth.
  • He/she shows interest in foods by opening his/her mouth.
  • He/she feels hungry even after breastfeeding.

However, if infants aged 4 – 6 months have not gaining weight after all efforts have been made to improve the milk feeding, introduction of complementary foods can be considered.

Consequences if complementary foods are given earlier than 6 months

  • the infant may refuse to breastfeed or drink milk due to satiety.
  • Impairment of the infant’s digestive and renal function due to immature organ functions.
  • Develop risks for infections, allergy and diarrhoea.

Consequences if complementary foods are given later than 6 months

  • May cause infant to adapt more slowly to new foods.
  • Growth spurt may be affected.
  • May cause nutrient deficiencies.

How to prepare complementary foods for infants

  1. Complementary foods are prepared in various ways depending on the infants’ age. Infants have different levels of development and abilities.
  2. Prepare foods with different texture at different age:
    • Infants aged 6 to 8 months must be given pureed, mashed and semi-solid foods.
    • At 9 to 11 months, the foods should be chopped. As infants develop fine finger control, finger foods (small food that can be picked up easily) such as soft biscuits and fruits can also be given.
    • At 12 months, infants can eat family foods.
  3. Separate set kitchen utensils should be used as your ordinary utensils may be rusty or contain traces of adult foods. If buying new utensils is not practical, make sure that the utensils are washed and dried thoroughly before using for baby.
  4. Personal hygiene, cleanliness of cooking utensils and food must also be ensured at all stages of food preparation and during feeding of infants.
  5. Hands should be washed properly before preparing foods and after using the washrooms. Infants’ hands should also be washed thoroughly before eating.

How frequent should your infant eat?

  1. To fulfill your baby’s nutritional daily requirement, complementary foods should be given according to age:
    • Infants at age 6 -8 months must be given 2 -3 main meals per day with 1 -2 nutritious snacks.
    • At 9-11 months of age, they must eat 3 -4 main meals per day with 1 -2 nutritious snacks.
    • While children age 1-3 years, must eat 4 -5 main meals per day with 1 -2 nutritious snacks.
  2. However, you should increase the frequency of meals if the amounts of foods consumed is less or if the food is diluted (less-energy dense)

How much food should they eat in a day?

  • You must give adequate food to meet your child’s energy needs. the amount of foods should be increased according to age.
  • Give-energy dense foods including cereals, such as rice, wheat and tubers to your child.
  • For a start, give a small amount of foods and as the child adapt, gradually increase the quantity of food according to age.
  • As a guide, infants aged 6-8 and 9-11 months should be given ½ cup of thick rice porridge at each meal. this should be increase to 1 cup between the ages 9 -11 months. Children 1-3 years should be given ½ cup of rice at main meals. In addition, 1-2 teaspoons of oil should be added in a day meals for all age groups.

 

Food group
Amount of food / day according to age groups
6-8 months
9-11 months
1-3 years
Cereals, cereals based products and tubers 1 ½ cup porridge 2 ½ cup thick porridge 2 cups rice
Vegetables ¼ cup cooked vegetables ½ cup cooked vegetables 1 cup cooked vegetables
Fruits ¼ slices of papaya OR ½ small size banana (1 pisang mas : 33g) 1 slice of papaya OR 2 small size bananas (1 pisang mas : 33g) 1 slice of papaya OR 2 small size bananas (1 pisang mas : 33g)
Milk and dairy products Breastfeeding on demand Breastfeeding on demand Breastfeeding on demand/ 3 glasses of milk
Meat, poultry, fish and legume 2 tea spoon of any type of meat OR edible potion of fish (1/4 fish medium size) 2 tea spoon of any type of meat OR edible potion of fish (1/4 medium size) OR 1 egg ½ medium size Kembong OR 1egg
Fats, oils 1 teaspoon oil 1 ½ teaspoon oil 1 teaspoon oil
  • Below are sample menus of complementary foods and the approximate quantities for infants and young children. this may be used as a guide on how your child should eat in a day.
  • It is important that breastfeeding be continued on demand.
Meals
Age
6 – 8 months
9 – 11 months
1 – 3 years
Breakfast ½ cup rice porridge 1 dessertspoon tomatoes/ carrots 1 dessertspoon mustard greens/ spinach ½ cup porridge 1 ½ dessertspoon tomatoes/ carrots 1 dessertspoon mustard greens/ spinach 1 glass milk 1 slice toast 1 teaspoon margarine
Mid-morning tea 2 dessertspoon banana ½ slice papaya 1 small size banana 1 glass of milk
Lunch ½ cup thick rice porridge 1 teaspoon meat (soft cooked) 1 dessetspoon tomatoes/carrots ¾ cup thick rice porridge 1 teaspoons meat (soft cooked) 1½ dessertspoon tomatoes/carrots 1 dessertspoon mustard greens/spinach ½ cup noodle soup with 1 teaspoon meat ½ cup vegetables 1 glass plain water ½ slice papaya
Afternoon tea 1 dessertspoon banana 1 small banana (pisang mas) 2 pieces cekodok pisang 1 glass watermelon juice
Dinner ½ cup rice porridge 1 teaspoon meat (soft cooked) 1 dessertspoon tomatoes/carrots 1 dessertspoon tomatoes/ carrots 1 dessertspoon banana 1 teaspoon vegetable oil/margarine ¾ cup thick rice porridge 1 tea spoon fish 1½ dessertspoon tomatoes/carrots 1 ½ dessertspoon mustard greens/spinach 1 ½ teaspoons vegetable oil/margarine ½ cup white rice ½ piece kembong masak pindang 1/2 cup spinach 1 glass plain water
Supper 1 glass of milk

How to puree fruits / vegetables

  • Clean fruits/ vegetables thoroughly under running water.
  • Peel, remove core/seeds and cut into cubes or medium-sized pieces.
  • Steam fruit pieces until soft. If using soft fruit, skip this step.
  • Blend , mash or grate fruits/ vegetables.
  • Mix with milk or breast milk to make it soft and runny.

How to mash

  • Clean fruits/ vegetables thoroughly under running water.
  • Peel, remove core/seeds and cut into cubes or medium-sized pieces.
  • Steam fruits/ vegetables pieces until soft. If using soft fruit/ vegetables, skip this step.
  • Place softened fruits/ vegetables in a bowl and mashed with a kitchen masher. If you don’t have a masher, use a fork instead.

Note: Add various fruits to your baby’s diet . Other fruits and vegetables that can be pureed or mashed are:-

  • Fruits – Apple , pear, papaya, banana, honeydew, mango, watermelon
  • Vegetables – Potato, sweet potato, carrot, peas, cauliflower, pumpkin, french beans

How to make fruit juice

  • Clean fruit thoroughly under running water.
  • Peel, remove core/seeds and cut into cubes or medium-sized pieces.
  • Fruit with edible skin (example apple) do not have to be peeled, as the skin contains healthful nutrients.
  • Add approximately 30 ml (? cup) water and juice pieces with a blender.
  • If you’re blending soft fruits (example watermelon), there is no need to add water.
  • Filter juice through a sieve (press pulp with a spoon to squeeze out excess juice.
  • Serve juice to baby in a baby cup.

How to make vegetable juice

  • Wash the vegetables properly under running water and place into a clean pot.
  • Add 150 ml (2/3 cup) water and boil for approximately three minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  • Filter juice through a sieve (press boiled vegetables with a spoon to squeeze out excess juice)
  • Serve juice to baby in a baby cup.

How to make chicken stock (to be used in recipes)

  • Remove fat, skin and blood clots from assorted chicken bones. Wash the bones thoroughly. Boil chicken bones in 1 litre (4 cups) water. Upon boiling, slow down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and chill the stock in refrigerator overnight.
  • Remove the top layer of fat from chilled stock. the stock can be refrigerated for a week and frozen for a month.
Last reviewed : 02 October 2009
Writer : Zalma Bt. Abdul Razak
Zuhaida Bt. Harun
Nazli Suhardi B. Ibrahim
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