Excited to spoon-feed your baby? Before you start buying infant cereals, it is important to equipped yourself with the right information about introducing solid foods to babies. There are many misconceptions in this matter. To help ease your confusions, here is an ultimate guide on how to start babies on solid foods.
The most frequently asked question about introducing solid foods to babies is when to start. Four or six months? Some babies are ready for solids as early as four months old. This is when: (1) They can sit with minimal support. (2) Have a good head control. (3) Grab things and put in their mouth. (4) No more tongue-thrust reflex which automatically sticks tongue out when anything is put in their mouth.
However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends waiting until six months of age before giving solid foods to babies. This is to maximize the health benefits of breastmilk or formula milk which is more nutritious for babies than any solid foods. It is strictly not advisable to start spoon-feeding your baby below four months old as it could pose choking difficulties.
Most moms offer infant single-grain cereals as their baby’s first food. But you don’t have to necessarily start with cereals. In fact, some foods, bananas for example, can cause constipation to some babies. You can begin with pureed or mashed fruits or vegetables. For instance, avocado which is easy to prepare, healthy, and rich in fiber. It is better to go with organic or homemade baby food to avoid unhealthy additives.
You can use a blender to easily puree foods such as fruits, steamed vegetables, and cooked meat. Do not add salt or sugar to babies’ puree as it is unhealthy for them. Introduce foods one at a time and wait for three days before trying another food. This is to monitor your baby’s reaction to food and to whether he/she has food allergy. Watch out for difficulty breathing, rashes, hives, swelling, diarrhea, and blood in stool. Consult your child’s pediatrician immediately once you noticed any adverse reactions by your baby.
Be careful of the consistency of the puree you give to your baby. Make sure that it’s easy for him/her to swallow. It should be watery and spoon-dripping for the first feedings. You may add distilled water, breastmilk, or formula milk to adjust the thickness. Offer only one teaspoon in the beginning. Then slowly increase the consistency, amount, and frequency of feeding as times goes by. Until your baby eats at least 4 oz in every meal 2 to 3 times a day.
Know that introducing solid foods is to get your baby used to different food flavors and textures. It does not necessarily provide nutritional value to the baby. Breastmilk or formula milk is still the primary source of nutrition for babies up to one year old. So do not force your baby to eat. Allow him/her to play with the puree to experience the texture, smell, and taste of the food.
Make spoon-feeding a happy time for your baby. Start the meal when he/she is happy and slightly hungry. If the baby gets fussy, closes mouth when offered food, or throws food, it means that your baby is full. Or simply does not want to eat. Remove the baby from high chair right away when this happens. This is to show your baby that his/her cues are being heard and you two are communicating.
Introducing solid foods to your baby should be a fun and exciting experience. Your baby may not remember the experience when he/she grows up but it will help him/her develop a good and healthy eating habits. Besides, you will be there to tell your child about these happy times when he/she grows up.
Isabella Whitmore is a loving mother of two. She writes for https://electrickettlesplus.com, an appliance website that offers wide selection of electric kettles. Including this variable temperature kettle which is safe to use for making baby food.