When should you start your baby on solids?
Some experts say you should exclusively breastfeed for baby’s first six months. Others say you should look for developmental milestones between the ages of 4 and 6 months before starting solids, such as:
- Baby can sit upright and hold his head up on his own.
- Baby is interested in your food and reaches out for it.
- Baby opens his mouth when you offer him food.
Should I continue with breast milk or formula after starting solids?
Yes. Breast milk or formula needs to stay in the picture. They provide necessary nutrition for your growing baby.
Continue your breastfeeding or formula feeding routine, then try giving baby a taste of solid foods after the breast milk or formula feed.
Meal times at this early age is more about getting used to the act of eating and learning which tastes and textures he likes.
Should there be a schedule?
Once your baby gets used to eating, around 9 to 10 months, you can put them on a schedule. A breakfast, lunch and dinner routine will have your baby used to the idea of eating on a schedule. Don’t be surprised or get frustrated, though, if they don’t want to eat all those meals. This is just to help them get into the rhythm of meals on a schedule.
What kind of routine should I have?
Babies do best with routines. For example, wash baby’s hands, soothe them, and then sit them down to eat. Ensure that you maintain calm, eliminate any unnecessary noise and give them your full attention. Meal time should be bonding time!
Eating takes getting used to. The sensation of the spoon, the texture of the food and different tastes of food are all new sensations. It also takes coordination and practice to get food into your baby’s mouth so expect a mess.
Remember that just because his hands are in the bowl more than the spoon is in his mouth doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t like the food. Pay attention, however, to signs that baby’s no longer interested. He may clamp his mouth shut, push food away or lose interest and get distracted. Respond to these signs by ending meal-time and taking baby out of the high chair.
What Should Baby Eat?
- Vegetables that have been cooked until soft or fruits that have been stewed and mashed work well as first foods. Combine with a few teaspoons of breast milk or formula to make it runny at first and provide a familiar taste. Then you can thicken it as your baby gets used to eating. (4 to 8 months)
- Pureed meats stewed in broth can provide necessary iron. (4 to 8 months)
- Chopped, ground, or mashed foods (9 to 12 months). It’s okay to stick to pureed foods if your child isn’t ready yet. Offer soft fruits or mashed finger foods and see how he reacts.
What Foods Should Baby Avoid?
- Raw honey before baby’s first birthday should be avoided because of the rare possibility of being infected with the bacteria that causes botulism.
- Citrus fruits may be too acidic for baby’s sensitive, still developing digestive system and could cause rashes.
- Nuts, popcorn, globs of peanut butter (or any nut butter), raisins and similar foods are choking hazards and best to be avoided as first foods.
Have you started your baby on solids yet? What challenges are you facing? Please share with our readers.
First published at raisingchildren.net.au