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When, What, and How to Introduce Solid foodsNot sure when or how to introduce solid foods to your baby? Well, this article will help you answer all the questions you might have about your little one’s diet and their nutrition requirements. Introduce solid foods to your baby
Introducing solids to your baby is a big deal and we know how important it is for you as a parent to make sure that your baby’s health is given the utmost priority. We hope after reading this article you are able to have a better understanding of your infant’s dietary requirements. Let us start with the most basic and common question of every parent,
WHEN TO INTRODUCE SOLID FOODS TO YOUR BABY? It can often be very confusing as a parent to choose the right time for your baby to shift from breastfeeding to other foods.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing solid foods to children when they are about 6 months old. However, some people start as soon as 4 months, every child is different so how do you really tell if your baby is ready for solid foods or not?
Here are a few signs to look for, before introducing solid foods to your baby :
- Your baby might be curious about the food you are eating and is reaching out for it.
- They are able to sit with little or no support
- Has a good head control
- Are able to move food from front to the back of the mouth
- Your child has gained significant weight (doubled birth weight) and weighs at least 13 pounds
WHAT FOODS TO START WITH?
Now that you know when to introduce solid foods to your child, let us get into with what foods you can start with,
Though there is no particular order to introduce solids to your child, it’s better to start with real, wholesome foods. Rather than just the plain old rice cereal, you can start with pureed fruits and vegetables like sweet potato, peas, squash, avocado, apples, and banana.
If you’re starting with cereal make sure to use infant cereals with a variety of grains like oats, barley and multi-grain instead of only rice cereal and try to avoid anything with added sugar and salts. Make sure to not start with foods having a history of allergies in your family. The most common allergenic foods to look out for are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts, wheat, and soybeans. However, every child is different so it’s better to consult with your child’s doctor beforehand just to be sure of what’s best for your child.
HOW MUCH FOOD SHOULD YOU FEED TO YOUR CHILD?
In the beginning of solid feeding, the baby might eat only once a day but as they grow the requirements of the child will gradually keep increasing over time. By 6 to 7 months two meals a day is normal and around 8 to 9 months the baby might eat three times a day. Also, new eaters only need about 1 to 2 tablespoons of food, so make sure to feed in small portions.
Another thing to ensure while feeding your baby solids is to try one food at a time rather than mixing many things, this will help you to easily check which food your child might be allergic to and avoid the risk of allergies harming your kids’ health. At the end of the day, it is important to have fun and keep introducing new flavors and textures to your little ones’ diet.
Here’s a breakdown of the consistency of solid foods for your baby as per their age:
- Birth to 4 months: Breast milk or formula only.
- 4 to 6 months: Breast milk or formula and if the baby starts showing signs as mentioned above you can start with a very runny consistency of solid foods for your baby.
- 6 to 8 months: If you have not introduced solids to your baby yet, this is the right time for your baby to try solids as they might have shown all the necessary signs by now. Try one food at a time and wait for 2 to 3 days if you can to have your baby try some other food.
- 8 to 10 months: This is a good time for your baby to shift to a little bit more lumpier consistency. The food no longer has to be in a runny consistency anymore and you can offer mashed fruits and mashed vegetables to your child. Around this time, you’ll also notice a significant increase in your baby’s diet
- 10 to 12 months: Have your baby try small bites of fruits mashed or cut into small pieces or bite-size, soft-cooked vegetables, after knowing their allergies you can offer combo foods to your baby like mac and cheese, though you can offer them cheese and other milk products but make sure not to serve cow’s milk to your baby until the age of 1.
HOW TO PREPARE BABY FOOD?
It is better for your child if you prepare the food at home rather than feeding the baby, foods already available in the markets, as the pre-made processed foods might lack in necessary vitamins and nutrients essential for your child’s proper growth and development. Your children need certain vitamins and minerals to grow healthy and strong. Since your child has just started eating solid foods, it is important to choose foods that give your child all the vitamins and minerals they need. Prepare foods in such a manner that it is easy for your baby to eat and swallow it. For your baby’s first time trying food other than breast milk make sure that the consistency of the food is very runny somewhere between solid and liquid. You can try and get this by mixing the smooth puree with water or breast milk and as the baby gets older, you can slowly move towards a thicker and lumpier consistency of foods for them. To avoid choking prepare foods that are easily dissolved with saliva and do not require much chewing. Here are some tips and tricks on how and what to prepare food for your baby:
- Banana puree is among the best first food for your baby to try and is also rich in fiber and potassium.
- Choose organic food whenever possible as it is the purest and healthiest food you can offer to your baby.
- Mix food with breast milk to make it smooth and easy for your baby to swallow.
- Cook, grind, mash or puree vegetables, fruits, and other foods until the texture is smooth enough for the baby to swallow easily.
- Hard fruits and vegetables, like apples and carrots, are normally required to be cooked so they can be easily mashed or pureed.
- Cook food until it is soft enough to easily mash with a fork.
- Remove all fat, skin, and bones from poultry, meat, and fish, before cooking.
A FEW OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
- Don’t stop breastfeeding your baby at least till the age of 1 or even later if you can as it still is the most nutritious and vital food for your baby in the initial years of growth.
- Make sure to taste your baby’s food before feeding them, though it won’t have any sugar or salt that we are accustomed to but it should still taste and smell good to you, for your baby to like and take interest in eating it.
- When feeding your baby be careful to use a spoon with soft edges or any tool that might not hurt your baby’s gums.
- There is nothing to worry about if your baby does not like something right away it usually takes a little bit more than one time to like something as the time goes by your baby will grow into liking them eventually.
- Make it fun for the baby so they develop a healthy relationship with food. Always remember healthy eating should be simple and enjoyable, not stressful or overwhelming.
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