Breast milk and formula satisfies baby’s initial requirement of essential nutrients. However, after some time, as the baby’s tummy grows, she needs actual, solid foods to meet with her growing needs. Every kid is unique and has different growth patterns and food needs. When your baby gives indications of being quickly hungry between full milk feeds, shows interest in food and swallows it when placed on the tongue; this is the time when he/she is ready to progress on to solid foods.
Though exclusive breastfeeding is recommended till a baby is about 6 months old, solid foods can be introduced to a baby sometime between 4 and 6 months if your baby shows signs of readiness.
In older days, parents sneak in some cereal in a baby’s feeding bottle to help her sleep better. However, nowadays doctors advise that this is just not true. Essentially, somewhere between 4-7 months your baby would exhibit a growth spurt. However, wait till six months before introducing solids to your baby.
It is at this point, they lose the extrusion reflex that helps them when they suck on a breast or a bottle-nipple. At the same time, they will be able to push the food back with the tongue. It is also about at this age that most babies become ready for taking up solid foods. Moreover, it is understood that sometime when the baby hits 6 months, the natural stores or iron start to go down, and hence eating solid foods will make up for it.
Yes, breast milk does not contain as much iron as formula. However, the baby absorbs iron in breast milk more readily than Iron in the formula. Hence, it becomes essential to substantiate the baby’s diet with other foods that can help her develop properly.
Introduce soild food to a baby when the baby’s digestive system has developed to digest. Then, the baby will not be as prone to allergies as the immune system also, then, slowly develops. Read on Introducing Solid Foods here
The below signs will signal that your little one is ready to take on solids now:
CAUTION: Never try to feed a baby when lying down as she may not be able to make the connection of eating while sitting straight up. Also, this might cause problems in swallowing.
Always offer the baby her food when the baby isn’t full, but has had some of her milk. Your baby may or may not like the new food – if she rejects it, offer her some the next day, or wait for a few days and then try again.
Most commonly, single grain rice cereal or oatmeal is offered as the first food to the baby. Being iron fortified, these iron rich baby cereals are easily digestible. It can be mixed with breast or formula milk. At times, these cereals are also mixed with water and fed to the baby. As a thumb rule, your baby’s first food should match her eating abilities and be safe to swallow. The food should be easily digested. Also, try to feed a single food item at a time. The food should not upset the tummy of your baby, so always avoid stale or allergic food. It is good to prefer homemade cereal/food. Let her try different varieties gradually. It is good to let your baby taste more foods so that she can develop her own taste and preferences. When the baby shifts her head, or starts to play with the soon, lets out a wail or two when offered food, be assured that she has had her fill and needs to sleep or play now.
Pureed form of solid foods, fed with soft spoons is a general preference. To avoid causing discomfort to the baby’s soft gums, use a very soft spoon or use your finger. Always feed your baby the bottle or nurse her first, and then make her taste a pureed banana, peach or a potato. See that she is able to take the food from her tongue to the back of her mouth, and rest assured, your little angel is now ready for solid and finger foods. Water can also be given to the baby now, and this will keep constipation in check. Refrain from adding cereal to your baby’s bottle, as she may not relate sitting and eating later and this can cause problems.
Once the baby gets used to her solids’ routine,the baby will move on to more exciting options – mashed, chopped, cut etc., exposing her to various textures of food.
The day your baby tastes something other than breast or formula milk is a big day. To make your baby accept solids as her food now, feed her with a little bottle or nurse her and after that offer her a taste of the new food, comprising of a teaspoon or two. If it is bedtime or the baby is about to nap, many parents offer the milk so as to provide the comfort factor. Either way, as long as the baby likes the new food. Aw with anything new, never introduce solids if your baby is cranky, tired, sick or throwing tantrums. If the baby rejects her new food, do not worry, try again after a few days.
Start by giving solids to your baby just once a day. Another month, you can make your baby eat solids twice a day. Generically, your baby should have solids three times a day when she is about months old. A healthy combination of breast or formula milk, iron fortified baby cereal, pureed fruits and vegetables, and some proteins like lentils, and cottage cheese would be good for the baby. Do not feed your baby honey until he is an year old. Read more about honey and infants here
The first thing is that your baby should be able to sit upright before being introduced to solids. The baby should be seated in a comfortable place, preferably on a high chair. The baby can also be sit in a bouncy seat if he cannot sit by himself as yet. Still, make sure the baby is able to swallow easily and is uprightly seated. Invest in soft spoons and baby cups and bowls. Tying a bib is a good idea as well. If you are making your own baby food, buy a good tool like a blender, food processor, or baby food grinder. Also invest in some baby food storage containers. The baby starts picking up on your eating habits, so make sure you are good to go! There will be cute moments of your baby’s face smeared in food, more on the face than he would have eaten, make sure you capture these loving moments.
Avoid dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, wheat, honey, etc while introducing solid food. These can cause allergic reaction to a baby. The digestive system is still in developing phase. Diarrhea, vomiting, wheezing, a swollen face, etc are indications of an allergic reaction. Talk to your doctor, always make a new introduction after at least 3 days so that you can notice any reactions her body shows after a particular food.
Absolutely. You must nurse or formula feed your baby till she is a year old, at least. The intake of milk might come down as your baby starts to taste different flavors and textures. Yet, the baby needs the breast or formula milk as solid foods do not replace all the nutrients that your baby needs in the first year.
Feeding babies and toddlers solid food is not difficult, but requires creativity and patience. You need to keep on trying every day, it is not necessary that your baby will take it on the very first day. He may like it after three-four days or simply not yet be ready for it. It is also possible that anything which they ate with interest few days back will not attract them another time at all. In the beginning, the quantity of intake might be very low, slowly it will increase.
Once a baby completes first year and moves towards second year her gut would have matured enough to handle solid foods safely. Find out five super food you should considee for your baby here.