Introducing solids to babies is an age long concern among mothers, especially new moms.
There’s always this question of:
- At what age do I introduce my baby to solids?
- How do I know my baby is ready?
- What foods do I begin with?
- What if my baby has an allergy to certain foods?
- How do I go about it?
- What if my baby doesn’t accept solid foods?
These are common questions in the minds of new moms as well as experienced moms as each
child differs from another. One may be more receptive and open to trying out new foods while another may not be so open to it, so there’s always this question of how do I introduce my little one to solid foods?
This is a comprehensive guide which I hope will help you as your baby crosses this very exciting milestone.
Introducing solids to your baby exposes them to a world of different flavours and textures from a wide range of food. It also helps to develop and strengthen their jaws and teeth, which in turn helps them to learn how to chew and swallow.
Let’s begin by addressing the questions:
- At what age do I introduce my baby to solids?
Introducing your baby too early or too late could lead to potential problems. Start too early, and you would be putting your baby at a higher risk of obesity. Starting too late can lead to a slow development of your baby’s chewing ability. Chewing helps with jaw and speech development. Experts recommend a starting window of 4 to 6 months, but not before the age of 4 months.
The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a period of 6 months, after which solids could be introduced. When solids are introduced, continue to breastfeed your babies until they turn one year or longer if so desired by mom and baby. Consult your paediatrician for other advice!
2. Signs to know your baby is ready for solids:
You will know your baby is ready for solids if he/she:
- Can sit up with little or no support
- Shows interest in eating
- Have good control of their head and neck
3. What foods do I begin with?
You can start with vegetable purees (like apples, potatoes, bananas, green peas, butternut
squash, avocados, pears) and iron-enriched single-grain baby cereals with breastmilk or formula with no salt and sugar added. Remember, the key is being creative! Start with healthy and nutritious meals that are enriched with the necessary vitamins to aid your baby grow strong and healthy. As your baby grows and develops better chewing ability, he/she can be introduced to chopped foods and finger foods.
4. What if my baby has an allergy to certain foods?
Experts recommended waiting till your baby is at least one year before giving him/her foods that are considered to be highly allergenic like shellfish, soy, and eggs. However, recent research also has shown that there is no evidence that not introducing allergenic foods to babies under 1 year has any benefit. The National Institute of Health actually encourages parents to introduce allergy foods to babies between 4 to 6 months as this can decrease the risk of developing an allergy by 81%. It has been said that introducing peanut early can help prevent peanut allergy. It can be thinned out and added to purees. However, it is advisable to always introduce one food at a time and monitor your baby. If your baby has a food allergy, you may notice a reaction after taking the problematic food. Symptoms can be mild or severe and can include vomiting, constipation, diarrhoea, rash. Be sure to speak to your paediatrician as soon as possible if you suspect your baby has an allergy.
Here’s a few safety tips:
- Avoid feeding your baby foods that have choking hazards like whole peanuts, whole grapes, popcorn, nuts and seeds
- Avoid giving your baby honey until they turn one, as doing so can produce a toxin in the baby’s large intestine leading to infant botulism(a type of bacterial poisoning)
- Avoid giving your baby cow’s milk before they turn one year
- Avoid giving your baby processed adult foods, tea and coffee
- Don’t feed your baby solid food from a bottle as this could constitute a choking hazard
5. How do I go about it?
- Get a feeding seat, silicon spoons, and a little fancy plate for your baby. Let them hold one spoon while you feed them with another because if there is only one spoon, your baby may be in full custody of it.
- Encourage your baby to eat by themselves with their fingers and spoons. It can be messy and could involve a lot of clean-up afterwards, but it will help your baby to foster self-feeding. Use a bib to reduce the mess and make clean-up easier. It could also help to have your baby sit with the rest of the family during meals. As they watch other family members eat their food, it will encourage them to go for theirs as well.
6. What if my baby does not accept solid foods at first?
- Don’t push!
- Don’t rush!
- Don’t force it!
Introducing solids to your baby is a gradual process. It’s not all done in a day.
Try varieties over time to see which works for them. Start with one solid meal per day and move up. Over time, your baby will start adapting better to taking solid foods. Encourage your baby by talking to him/her while feeding them. Whatever happens, don’t be discouraged. Have some patience and the transition will be a fun experience for both you and your baby.
Kindly let us know if the tips work for you.