Baby First Foods

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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When to Start Feeding Solid Food?

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.

  1. If your baby can sit in an upright position on his own, without needing a lot of support. This is important as it means the baby can hold his head up and feeding him with solids won’t be a choking hazard.
  2. If your baby has started to chew on her toys or has adopted a habit of biting down on solid things, then she might be ready to chew on solids as well. You can experiment on this by feeding her a few soft foods, if she responds in a positive manner then she’s ready for solid food.
  3. If the baby stares at you longingly as you eat, or opens her mouth to be fed when you bring your finger close to her lips, then she might be asking for food other than just milk.

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.

What Should be Baby’s First Foods?

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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How to Minimize the Risk for Allergies?

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:

  1. There is someone else in the house with a food-related allergy, i.e. parent or sibling. 
  2. The baby had an allergic reaction when being fed with that food at a previous time.
  3. The baby displays different levels of eczema despite being treated by the doctor.
  4. The baby tested positive for a certain allergenic product.

How to Introduce Solid Food

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).

What is the Timeline for Introducing Solid Food?

4-6 Months:

  1. Pureed carrots, avocados, sweet potato.
  2. Mashed bananas.
  3. Infant cereal along with breastmilk/formula.
  4. Pureed and cooked chicken/meat.

6-9 Months:

  1. Smaller diced pieces of soft fruits such as bananas.
  2. Cooked and chopped into small pieces of meat or chicken.
  3. Soft, cooked vegetables in tiny portions such as beans, etc.

12 Months:

  1. Small fruit and vegetable pieces.
  2. Cooked small pieces of meat, chicken, and fish.
  3. Small portions of the food the family is having, in an appropriate spoon size (preferably teaspoons).

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.

Tips for Baby’s First Foods

  1. Look out for food that can become potential choking hazards.
  2. Some parents worry that feeding the baby with too many sweet products will lead to a sweet-tooth and weight gain and hence should be introduced last. While it’s true that sweets shouldn’t be an excessive part of the diet, the fact is that every baby is born with a sweet tooth. You can feed him any food in any order.
  3. Only use a spoon to feed the baby with cereal; bottle-feeding cereal can lead to obesity and become a choking hazard as well.
  4. Some babies suffer through constipation once solid food is introduced in his diet. If you notice slower diaper spoils or the baby finds it hard to poop, contact the doctor in order to figure out the kind of fiber-rich foods to make a part of his diet.

What Food Shouldn’t Be Given?

There are a few foods that the baby shouldn’t be fed with. These include:

  1. The baby shouldn’t be given any milk other than formula and breastmilk until he’s approximately a year old. This especially includes cow’s milk. Although baking or other products can have different kinds of food in them.
  2. Honey is a dangerous thing to introduce too early in the baby’s diet as it can lead to/increase the risk for paralysis-inducing diseases.
  3. Corn, Whole Grapes, Whole Nuts are choking hazards for babies and hence they shouldn’t be fed either, unless in pureed forms or available as an ingredient in another product.

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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