Introducing Solid Food To Babies
Gradually introducing solid food products into the diet of the baby will aid her to move from milk or formula into everyday foods. But make sure that the change is not overwhelming for the baby.
What are Solid Foods?
Solid baby foods are foods which move babies from milk to adult foods. After about 4 – 6 months, nutrition from milk, formula or breast milk is not sufficient to add solid foods to the baby’s diet and to satisfy the baby’s nutrition needs.
When Should You Introduce Your baby To Solid Food?
As long as your baby is ready, the doctor can say that you can start solids around 4 to 6 months at any time. Breast milk or formula provides all the calories and nutrition your baby needs up to that point–and can handle them. Children do not yet have the physical ability to safely swallow solid foods, and their digestive system is simply not ready for solids until they are about 4 months old.
While a section of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends only the first six months to be breastfed, the nutrition section of this AAP and the Pediatrics Guidelines for Breastfed Solids recommend 4 – 6 months to start.
How Can I Know If My Baby Is Prepared For Solid Food?
When your baby is ready to move beyond a liquid diet, it will give you clear signs. Cues to be searched include:
1. Control of the head:
Your baby needs to be in a steady, upright position to keep his head.
2. Sit well when supported:
In order to swallow well, your baby needs to be able to sit upright in a child feeding seat or highchair.
3. Losing the “reflex of extrusion:
” The mouth and tongue of your baby develop in sync with your digestive system. To start solids, instead of using his tongue to push food out of his mouth, he should be able to move food to the back of his mouth and swallow it.
4. Significant weight gain:
If he has doubled his birth weight, weighs at least 13 pounds, and is at least 4 months old, he may be ready to eat solids.
5. Food curiosity:
If you offer him a spoonful, your baby may start eyeing or reaching for your food or may open his mouth.
Which Solid Foods Should You Feed Your Baby First?
Every baby is different, so talk to the doctor of your child about what solids to introduce and when. Most infants with no added salt or sugar can start with any purified single-ingredient food. Although starting babies on infant cereal is customary in many American families, there is no medical evidence showing that this offers any health benefits or advantages.
If your baby is breastfed, the AAP suggests meat as a first meal because the iron in beef, chicken, and turkey helps replace their iron stores, which begin to decrease at around 6 months of age. Pureed sweet potatoes, squash, applesauce, bananas, peaches, and pears are other good first foods.
What Can You Do To Minimize Food Allergy Risk?
Traditional foods such as iron-fortified cereals, purified veggies, fruit, and meats usually do not cause allergic reactions but, if they happen, keep an eye on your baby’s allergy signs.
You can introduce more allergic foods like soy, eggs, wheat, fish, and peanut butter once you’ve tried these foods and your child seems to tolerate them very well. In fact, introducing allergies about 4 to 6 months can help later in preventing the development of allergies to food, the American Academy of Allergy and Asthma and Immunology (AAAI).
With certain babies, special precautions should be taken. Consult the doctor or an allergist for an adapted feeding plan prior to adding the solids in your baby’s diet, if you are in one of the following categories:
- Your child has a sibling with a peanut allergy.
- Although you follow a doctor’s plan, your baby has moderate to severe eczema.
- Your baby was previously diagnosed with an immediate allergy to a new food or food allergy.
- Blood testing for your baby was positive for a particular food allergy.
How Do You Introduce Each New Food To Your Baby?
Gradually introduce solids, one at a time. Offer a new meal to your baby a few times over three to five days before you try another new meal. This way you can tell if you have an allergic reaction to something in your baby. While you want to eat a wide variety of foods for your baby, it takes time for her to get used to each new taste and texture. In general, your baby can begin the transition to pureed or half-liquid food, then move to stressed or mashed food, and finally, take off in little pieces of finger food.
Offer a few tablespoons of vegetables or fruit in the same meal as a cereal feed (or mix them together) if your baby moves on from cereal. All food should be very mushy – at this stage, before swallowing, your baby will press the food on top of her mouth.
How Can You Know When Your Baby Is Full?
The appetite of your baby will vary from one feeding to the next, so a strict accounting of how much you’ve eaten isn’t a reliable way to tell when you’ve got enough. Look for the signs he probably did:
- Leans back in the chair
- Turns away his head from food
- Begins to play with the spoon
- Do not open up for the next bite (A baby sometimes stops her mouth because the first mouthful hasn’t finished yet, so give her time to swallow).
Tips For Solid Food Feeding:
1. Offer sweets or savories in any order:
Offer in any order sweets or savories. Some parents may tell you to start with vegetables instead of fruits so that your baby will not develop a sweet taste. But babies are born with a sweet preference, so you don’t have to worry about putting in any particular order sweet or savory foods.
2. Feed cereal with a spoon only:
Do not add cereal to his bottle unless your baby’s doctor asks you to do so – he might choke or end up gaining too much weight.
3. Encourage adventurous eating:
Don’t leave your food just because you don’t like it.
4. Give new foods time:
If a particular food turns away from your baby, don’t push. In a week or so, try again. He might never like sweet potatoes, or he might change his mind and love them.
5. Know the choking hazards:
Don’t give foods to your baby that could cause him to shock.
6. Look for constipation:
Sometimes when your diet changes the stool of a baby. Even though it is usually temporary, after introducing solids, your baby may have constipation. If you notice your baby’s bowel movements are less frequent, or if his stools have become hard or dry and seem hard to pass, let his doctor know. Some doctors advise that a baby’s diet should include high-fiber fruits like pears, plums, and fish, or give him a few ounces of plum, apple or pear juices every day until he returns to the normal stage of bowel movements.
Also, don’t be surprised when you add solids to your diet when your baby’s stools change color and smell. If your kid has been breastfeeding exclusively until now, you will probably find his once mild smelling stools smelling a strong smell as soon as he starts eat even small amounts of solids. It’s all right.
Your baby will take time to get used to the taste, texture, and sensation of each new food. That’s why you need to start the transition in mind.
Also Read: What Cause Constipation In Toddlers?