National Nutrition Week: Healthy Diet for Infants

 Who are Infants?

Children of age group 0-1 year are called infants. They constitute 2.92 % of total population in India. 

What is the need?

As we all know healthy dietary practices start early in life – breastfeeding brings up healthy growth and improves cognitive development and have longer term health benefits such as reducing the risk of becoming overweight or obese and developing NCDs later in life. A balanced diet is the key to protect the child against nutritional deficiencies also.

When National Nutrition Week is celebrated?

1st to 7th September every year in India to focus on various aspect of Nutrition among all age groups.


What should be included in diet & how to feed?



Birth to 6 months: Early and Exclusive Breastfeeding
  • Put your baby to your breast immediately after birth, definitely within 1 hour. This helps in establishing lactation and bonding.
  • Your baby has a small and tender stomach that only need mother’s breast milk. 
  • Mother’s first yellow milk provides immunity and protects the baby from diseases & infections.
  • Your baby should be breastfed on demand both during the day and night (at least 8-10 times in 24 hours). 
  • Frequent feeding increases breast milk flow. Don’t forget to feed the baby at night
  • Sometimes, baby cries because he/she wants to be held close. Keep your baby in close contact with your skin. 
  • While breastfeeding, smile, talk and look into your baby’s eyes, but don’t rock him/her while feeding
  • Breast milk provides all nutrients and contains sufficient water. 
  • Do not give your baby anything else to eat or drink, not even honey, sweetened water, ghutti, cow or goat’s milk or water in the first 6 months. 
  • No pacifiers are given to the child.
  • Your baby needs only breastfeeding till 6 months of age
  • Even if your baby is ill, continue breastfeeding till 6 months 
  • After 6 months, your baby requires small frequent meals, along with breast milk and other liquids during illness.
  • Breastfeeding improves intelligence.
  • Consult your Doctor or  ANM, ASHA and AWW  of your area in case you have any problem in breastfeeding your baby
Six months to two years: Complementary Feeding along with breastfeeding

6 months:
  • Continue breastfeeding  
  • On completion of 6 months, start feeding baby with 2–3 table spoons of soft, well-mashed foods 2–3 times a day 
  • Introduce one food at a time, such as a small amount of vegetables, followed by fruits, dal and cereals  
  • Increase amount of the feed slowly 
  • Give iron drops/syrup to maintain the body’s iron store for improving intelligence and physical strength
6–9 months:
  • Continue breastfeeding  
  • Change consistency to lumpy feeds given 3–4 times a day 
  • Feed 2–3 times and 1–2 snacks  
  • Increase quantity and diversity of the feeds 
  • Introduce one new food at a time such as khichri, dalia 
  • Include at least 4 food groups such as: (1) cereals; (2) green vegetables and fruits; (3) oil, ghee; (4) mashed dal/fish/egg (only hard-boiled)  
  • Give iron drops/syrup to maintain the body’s iron store for improving intelligence and physical strength
9–12 months:
  • Continue breastfeeding  
  • After 9 months, feed at least half katori of food that requires chewing 3–4 times a day 
  • After 12 months, introduce family foods, give 3/4th–1 katori, 3–4 times each day along with 1–2 snacks  
  • Give finely chopped foods that baby can pick up using thumb and fingers. Allow children to eat with own hands, even if they mess up  
  • Give Vitamin A syrup for improving eyesight 
  • Give iron drops/syrup to maintain the body’s iron store for improving intelligence and physical strength

General tips:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food and before feeding the baby, after using the toilet or disposing of the child’s faeces.  
  • If feeding eggs, ensure they are well-cooked  
  • Thoroughly rinse raw fruits and vegetables under running water before cooking 
  • Cook thoroughly, use safe water, discard all leftovers on children’s plates and do not save them for later 
  • Use only iodized salt for cooking; iodine improves intellect 
  • Give iron drops/syrup to maintain the body’s iron store for improving intelligence and physical strength
  • Avoid junk foods
  • Separate bowl for the child
  • Talking to the child while feeding 
  • Showing animals etc. while feeding the child 
  • Encouraging the children to eat on their own
  • The child’s hands should also be thoroughly washed with soap and water before meals. 
  • Wash your child’s cup or bowl thoroughly with soap and clean water
  • Do not use feeding bottles.
  • Prepare food using clean utensils. 
  • Prepare and store foods safely.
  • Discourage use of pacifiers and infant feeding bottles 
  • Family should keep the floor and play area of children clean by keeping it free of urine and excrement of farm animals and humans.

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