Introducing Solids to Babies – The Importance of Annaprashan

Annaprashan is the Hindu custom that marks your baby’s transition from liquids to solid food. It is known as chorunoo in Kerala and mukhe bhaat in Bengali. The rites of Annaprashan may vary according to region, but the aim is the same. A successful transitioning and celebrating the fact of baby starting on solid foods.

Why is Annaprashan performed?
A baby who is on breast milk or formula fed milk gets all the nutrients that she needs from this liquid diet. But babies grow at a healthy rate and will soon need nutrients, particularly iron, that a liquid diet alone cannot provide. That is why an elaborate ceremony ofAnnaprashan is performed. From the day of Annaprashan, the family slowly starts introducing solids to the baby.

What is the best way to introduce solids after the Annaprashan ceremony?
The best way to is to introduce one solid food at a time. Every new food can be introduced on the 5th day.
Babies are learning not just about the taste of the food, but also its different textures and aromas. Just like the taste of cheese, these new attributes need to be given time to get used to.

Which is the best first food?
You can safely start with fruits like banana, vegetables like mashed potato and rice. All of these have a smooth and non irritating texture. Moreover there is usually less issue with their aroma and taste.

How and when to transition from purees to chopped and mashed food?
Every baby will take its own time to get used to a certain food and be ready to move on to the next. At 6 months, purees are your best friends. You can continue this for a month (or more if the baby isn’t ready for mashed) and at 7 months try to introduce the same foods in a mashed or chopped form.

Which foods to offer
At 6 months your baby’s immune system is still delicate so it is important that you use only filtered water and well cooked food to lessen the probability of acquiring a stomach bug.

Once you are sure that your baby likes any 2 different types of food, you can try to mix them and offer it to the baby. Don’t expect her to immediately take to it, though.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables offer the maximum amount of nutrients when compared to off season fruits and vegetables that have been lying around for long and most likely have been injected with preservatives. That being said it is also advisable to steer clear of salt, added sugar and foods that are high in sodium. Your baby digestive system doesn’t need these additives and isn’t developed enough to flush them out successfully.
The food habits that your baby acquires during this stage plays the groundwork for her food preferences in adult life. For example if your baby has been offered sweet foods more than required, your baby will be fond of sweets in later life.

Another important fact to remember during this time is that all the fat cells in your baby’s body are formed until 5 years of age. This means that you are actually in control of the fact whether your baby will be overweight in adult life or not!
Fats are important for brain development and should be offered regularly to the baby in the form of ghee, butter etc rather than empty calories like canned juices, biscuits, etc.