Around 4-6 months, all that moving around and development your baby is up to will require more nutrients than formula or breast milk alone can provide. That's where solids come in.
Of course, the majority of their daily calories should still come from breast milk or formula until the end of their first year. Please consult your doctor before starting any solid food. However here are some things to consider:
When to Start Introducing Solid Foods
Most babies are ready for solids by 4-6 months. But it actually goes by infant growth and development. In other words, they must be able to push food to the back of their mouth with their tongue in order to swallow it.
If your baby is 4-6 months old and can sit with support, control their head, turn away from you, and move food to the back of their mouth with their tongue, they are probably ready.
What Foods to Start With
- Your baby's doctor may suggest starting with porridge. Just a couple of bites at first. Then you can work up to a couple of tablespoons, several times a day. Some paediatricians believe it is best to start with meats or spinach to make certain babies get enough iron.
- After about a week, you can try oat cereal.
- If the cereal is going well, introduce one fruit or vegetable at a time. Wait a week before you introduce another new type. Strained single foods like sweet potatoes or peas are good choices.
- Or, you can try strained or blended meats like chicken. Wait a week before you introduce another new type.
What to Watch For When Introducing Solid Foods
Some common first-year food allergies are cow's milk, soy, and eggs. Don't give your baby any foods your doctor hasn't approved first. And introduce new foods one at a time, so you can watch closely for allergic reactions.
Your baby's airway is small. To help prevent choking, cut your baby's food into very small pieces. Avoid things like popcorn, grapes and cherries. And never leave them unattended while eating.
While their tastes may change, their eating habits start now. So encourage them to enjoy what they are eating by making mealtime a fun adventure. Expose them to a wide variety of different flavours, colours and tastes. It may take repeated exposures to a new food before they eat it. Set a good example by eating nutritiously yourself. And avoid connecting food to approval or comfort.
Solids Don't Guarantee Sleep
There's no proof that feeding a baby solid foods helps babies sleep through the night. What's more, experts do not recommend starting babies on solid foods until 4-6 months of age. That's in part because right now, formula or breast milk is giving your baby all the nutrients they need.
In their first few months, your baby goes through rapid growth and needs calories. But remember that their stomach capacity is small. So frequent feedings are necessary. Your baby sleeping through the night comes along later.
A Word About Texture
Trying foods with different textures helps babies learn how to handle foods in their mouth. Babies who stay on pureed foods too long may be less willing to eat textured foods. So it's important to vary both tastes and textures when serving foods. Your baby will start on pureed food. Next, progress to lumpy pureed, then mashed or minced food as the baby gets older. Even with few teeth, babies can chew and swallow lumpy, mashed or small pieces of food.
Here is a guideline to help you determine what texture to try with your baby.
Sometime between 7-10 months, your baby will develop the pincer grasp, which is the ability to pick up small items between their thumb and forefinger. This puts them on the road to independent self-feeding.
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