An important question that arises in the mind of every parent is, when should they start feeding the baby with solids and other foods. Although the common age of feeding solid food is around 4-6 months, it’s expert-recommended that babies should be exclusively breastfed until the 6-month mark. After that, they can be started on other foods.
Breastmilk is good for the baby’s brain development and physical growth. Therefore, it’s important that the only food he is exposed to in the first few months after being born is breast milk. While solid foods are an important milestone that introduces the baby to new tastes, textures and provides him with important nutrients that will help with his growth in the long term.
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While 4-6 months is the suggested period to start on solid food, your decision really just depends on your baby. There are a few behavioral patterns you can observe in order to choose whether it’s the right time to introduce your baby to solids.
There are times when you feed the baby with solids but he throws it out of the mouth, this happens not because he doesn’t like the food but rather he doesn’t seem to understand where the food needs to go next or how to swallow it. In such cases, hold back on feeding him solid food just yet. Start with different liquidy foods like instant cereal, etc.
Experts suggest that the baby should be fed with any single ingredient pureed form of food in the beginning, without any added spices, including salt or sugar. There are suggestions for cereals as well but it doesn’t seem to have many visible advantages. Other than this, meat, chicken, and turkey are good first foods as they provide a lot of iron to the baby and make up for the iron decline that starts at 6 months of age.
Applesauce, banana, sweet potato, peaches, etc in pureed forms are some other foods suggested being good for the baby.
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Studies have shown that about 50% of food-related allergy risks can be minimized when the baby is introduced to allergenic food at the age of 4-6 months. And this is also the ideal time to observe whether the baby has any natural allergies from foods, e.g. eczema, asthma, etc. Allergic foods include nuts, eggs, and fish. Preventing feeding them doesn’t exactly protect the baby from any allergies but feeding them does reduce the risk of allergies by a high number.
There are products available that are specially designed to contain at least one allergenic ingredient in them, that will become a part of your baby’s diet subtly and you can find out whether your baby has any adverse reaction to said ingredients. If your baby does seem to have allergies, discuss this with the pediatrician. Do not feed the baby with allergenic products without speaking to his doctor first, if:
Being introduced to solid food doesn’t mean you stop feeding the baby with milk rather, solid food is more about getting the baby adapt to food other than just breastmilk so that he develops a familiarity with the texture and taste of solids. His primary source of nutrition is still going to remain breastmilk. And since that is the source of energy, the baby refusing solid food isn’t something you should worry about too much. Just introduce it in his diet gradually for him to get used to it and accept it with ease.
Some experts suggest introducing one food at a time while others say it’s safe to introduce several foods at once. Whatever you choose, do it slowly and gradually. Let the baby get used to the texture, taste, smell of the food. As the baby adapts to a certain food, it becomes easier for him to make it a part of his diet.
You need to remember that each baby has their own specific set of taste preferences. Maybe your first child liked something that your second child doesn’t and maybe your friend’s child refuses to eat something your baby loves to munch on. It takes time for babies to adapt to any given taste and texture of food. It is suggested to start with pureed forms of food, gradually transitioning to mashed food and then after a while towards small portions of finger food, etc.
Initially, the baby learns to taste the food, moving it around towards the top of his tongue before he swallows it. When his teeth start to come out, it will become easier for him to chew and swallow. Don’t offer too much juice to the baby as it can lead to weight problems and tooth decay; make sure the juice you are serving him is 100% natural, not because the box says so but because you’re sure it is (preferably, feed him with home-made natural juice).
After a few months, the baby is going to want to hold the food and eat on his own, it’s okay to hand him a tiny piece of fruit or vegetable so that he gets happy but make sure you’re feeding him yourself to ensure he’s getting fed properly and in the right amounts to avoid a choking hazard or any other problems.
There are a few foods that the baby shouldn’t be fed with. These include:
These are the basic pointers you need to keep a check on for your baby’s first foods. If you need more information on this or other topics, take a look at Little Angel Baby Clothes.
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