Beginning with solid foods for your baby can be a real thrill – picture your highness with food smeared all over the face and the dress – and everywhere else except the mouth. Yes, that is super cute, though it also gets messy. But hey, there’s time for manners and etiquettes, being messy is part of being kids!
But how to be sure that solid foods are safe for the baby? And when to begin? Well, none of this is rocket science and if you look closely, the baby will hint himself when he is ready for solid foods.
To check on your baby’s readiness for solid foods, first criterion is that the baby should be between 4- 6 months. Until the first half birthday, your baby’s digestive system is not as strong so as to digest solid foods, and all his needs of nutrients and nourishment are supplied by formula and breast milk.
Cues of a baby’s readiness for solid foods are as follows:
- Head Up Straight: The baby is able to hold his head and neck steadily – with support.
- Significant Weight Gain: Generically, birth weight should have been doubled by the time your baby is ready for solid foods.
- The Baby is Hungry More Often: If you feel the baby is not satiated even with 8-10 feeds a day, perhaps his body is wanting more in the form of solid foods.
- Teething and Chewing Motions: If the baby has sprouted his first set of teeth and can be seen swallowing; i.e. pushes the drool back and swallows, this is also a sign of readiness. Babies who are not yet open to solid foods will push the food out of their mouths with the tongue.
- Eyes Your Food: If the baby seems curious to know what you are eating and makes gestures of having it too, then its time to introduce solid foods to him as well.
- He Seems to be Wanting Solids – If you feel that your baby seems to be wanting solids, trust your gut and do not just wait for the calendar to strike 6 months. This could be effectively happening anytime during 4-6 months.
What To Start With:
Cereal: Most Commonly single grain cereal with the goodness of iron makes way to your baby’s plate since at around this time his iron levels start depleting. Mixing the cereal with enough breast or formula milk or even water gives the baby the benefit of easy and quick digestion. Do not make the paste too rough or hard, but keep it runny.
Pureed Fruits and Vegetables: Bananas, pears, prunes, sweet potatoes and many other options are there which make up for interesting and varied solid foods for your little one. The fruits must be ripe – so that they do not taste sour and are easily digestible. Ensure that you notice of there is any sign of allergy, and wait for 3 days before introducing a new item.
Mashed or Soft Cooked Fruits and Vegetables: For the hard ones, soft cook the fruits and vegetables and mash them up to feed the baby. No seasoning though!
Indian Foods: For all those mothers who swear by the goodness of Moong Dal, yes, moong daal water or boiled rice water can also be given to babies.
Finger Foods: Bite sized small pieces of foods that your baby can eat by himself and can also make a messy time for you. The food play should begin only after he is 8-9 months old.
Always wait for three days before introducing anything new to the baby to notice if the baby is allergic to something. Else, it will become a play of trial and error.
How Much To Give:
Babies do not need three meals a day, so begin with one or two tea spoons of solid foods and wait to see if he wants more. Use a clean and soft spoon and be careful not to hurt the gums. You can also use fingers to put the food in the baby’s mouth.
If the response is positive, begin with once a day feeding schedule and continue to see if he wants more, increasing the frequency and consistency slowly. Let the baby touch and smell the food, it may get messy but it is a way to introduce solid foods to the baby.
If your baby starts looking away or diverts his interest from food, he’s probably full and you may wrap the meal up. He may also refuse to open his mouth and start playing with the spoon, seemingly disinterested in food.
This does not imply breast or formula feeds are done with – at this age solid food is just like a supplement to baby’s milk feeds. The milk feed continues for atleast a year and must not be discontinued on a whim.
- Never introduce solid foods to a baby when he is tired, cranky or having teething discomforts.
- Use unbreakable plates and spoons, with soft corners.
- Make sure the baby is not sitting on an edge – he should either be on a fastened uprise chair or supported with pillows at the back of the bed.
- Stay with the baby till he’s not finished – leaving him unattended can cause swallowing accidents.
- Do not force feed – if the baby does not happen to like a particular food, try again in a week or two but do not resort to force feeding.
- Make sure the food is not hot, and unseasoned.
- Refrain from allergy causing=g foods like nuts, meats, eggs etc.