Nourishing Infants: ICMR Advocates Mashed Dals Over Watery Foods, Offers Comprehensive Meal Guide

Nourishing Infants: ICMR Advocates Mashed Dals Over Watery Foods, Offers Comprehensive Meal Guide

Nourishing Infants: ICMR Advocates Mashed Dals Over Watery Foods, Offers Comprehensive Meal Guide

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Discover the Latest Guidelines for Infant Nutrition by ICMR, Promoting Semi-Solid Meals and Nutrient-Rich Complementary Foods for Optimal Growth

By Khushi Maheshwari

In a recent development, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has issued new guidelines recommending the introduction of semi-solid foods for infants at six months of age, emphasising the importance of transitioning from watery foods to those with a thicker consistency. These guidelines aim to promote optimal growth and development in infants by providing nourishing meals that meet their nutritional needs.

To assist Indians in making better food choices, the ICMR and the National Institute of Nutrition published 17 new dietary guidelines for Indians of all ages.

According to the guidelines, parents are advised to start with thin porridge, gradually progressing to thicker consistencies over a period of four to five days. The transition from watery foods, such as lentil water (‘dal ka pani’), to mashed pulses/dals is recommended to ensure infants receive adequate nutrition and develop the necessary swallowing skills.

“Do not give watery foods such as dal kaa pani (lentil water), instead give mashed pulse/dals of a thicker consistency,” stated the medical research body.

After their infants spit out semi-solid or mashed foods, many parents may feed them watery foods like dal ka pani. The guidelines shed light on common misconceptions regarding infant feeding patterns, emphasising that spitting out semi-solid foods is a normal part of the learning process for infants and does not necessarily indicate dislike. It is crucial for parents to understand the physiological aspects of infant feeding, including the gradual development of motor skills required for swallowing.

If we look at the facts, they show that a baby’s tongue moves to get food out since they lack the complete motor control necessary for swallowing. As a result, it’s critical to begin by giving little amounts of semi-solid foods (two or three teaspoons).

What foods can complement this?

To meet the nutritional needs of infants aged six to twelve months, the guidelines recommend a diet rich in protein and micronutrient-dense foods. Breast milk alone may not provide sufficient calories and protein beyond six months, necessitating the introduction of complementary foods such as mashed vegetables, fruits, cereals, and protein-rich foods like meat, eggs, and pulses.

They should consume between 650 and 720 kcal per day and 9 to 10.5 g of protein per day. However, beyond six months, breast milk only offers an average of 500 Kcal and 5g of protein per day, which is insufficient for an infant’s ideal growth.

ICMR offers a comprehensive list of nutrient-rich meal suggestions for infants at different stages of growth. From purees of carrots and pumpkins for six to eight-month-olds to egg pudding and vegetable khichdi for one-year-olds and above, the guidelines provide a variety of options to cater to infants’ evolving nutritional needs

However, the preeminent medical research organisation advises against giving fruit juices or beverages with added sugar to newborns; instead, they should be given fresh fruit purees or juices. The body advises, “Sugar or salt need not be added to complementary foods.”


Most suited food for infants

Six to eight-month-old newborns can be fed purees of carrots, pumpkins, spinach, potatoes, apples, mashed fish and grated boiled eggs; nine to twelve-month-old babies can have egg pudding, eggnog and grated mixed vegetables. For infants one year old and up, plain dalia, boiled egg and vegetable khichdi are appropriate.