Starting solid foods is an exciting and important milestone in a child’s development. It is recommended to introduce solid foods to infants when they are around 4-5 months old, as their digestive system is better developed at this age. Parents should start with pureed or mashed foods, such as vegetables or fruits, and gradually progress to more textured foods. It is important to introduce one new food at a time, to watch for any allergic reactions, and to give the child time to adjust to the new tastes and textures. Additionally, parents should avoid giving their child foods that are choking hazards, such as nuts or popcorn, and ensure that the child is sitting upright and supervised during meals. With patience and consistency, starting solid foods can be a fun and rewarding experience for both the child and parent.
The first time your baby tries solid foods is a big deal! Get the camera and camcorder to record their expressions and reactions.
Pick a time when your baby is happy and not too hungry, overtired or cranky. Make sure you’re not rushed, so that you can enjoy the experience.
Choose one food to introduce first. Feed that to them for a few days before introducing the next new food, to check for possible allergic reactions.
If you note diarrhea, rashes, or vomiting after introducing a new food, stop offering it and consult your pediatrician.
If you offer cereal, make sure it’s one made specifically for babies; they’re fortified with specific nutrients babies need at this age.
Your Baby’s Development This Week
By now, your baby may be showing a lot of interest in the food that you’re eating! Most of the Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for about six months, and notes that most babies are ready to start solid foods between four and six months.
Here are some signs that your baby is ready:
They lose the tongue-thrust reflex that pushes the spoon back out of their mouth.
They are interested in what you’re eating – making “ooh” sounds as they watch you eat, or trying to grab your fork or slice of bread.
They can sit up with good head control in the high chair, although they still need the support of their body.
They can draw in their lower lip to take food from a spoon.
You might wonder about:
What kinds of foods to introduce first. Single-grain cereals, such as rice, are common first foods, but you don’t have to start with these. You can try purees of any healthy food, including meats, vegetables or fruits.
Should you start out with vegetables so your baby learns to like them? There’s no evidence to support this. Babies have a natural preference for sweets and the order you introduce foods doesn’t change that.
How long to continue breastfeeding. Even after you start solids, breast milk or formula are your baby’s primary source of nutrition for their first year. Keep breastfeeding for at least a year if you can.
Can I just add the solids to the bottle? It’s an important part of your baby’s development to learn how to eat from a spoon and to join in family meal time. If your baby has been diagnosed with reflux, your pediatrician may have you add cereal to the bottle.
Is your baby getting enough nutrients? If your baby is breastfeeding, you will need to supplement them with 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily during that time. Check with your pediatrician. Iron-rich foods are important, Sources include fortified cereals, meat, and spinach. Red meat, turkey, and lentils add zinc to your baby’s diet to boost their immune system.
Don’t wait too long to start solid foods. While it is advisable to exclusively nurse for 6 months, once babies get much older than six months, they may be more set in their ways and reluctant to take to new foods.
Your baby may need some fiber in their diet to stay regular. Try prunes, pear juice, or oatmeal.
Not all medications are safe to take while you are breastfeeding. Check with your pediatrician.
Your baby will add about 1 to 1.5 pounds per month and grow about 2-3 inches in length over the next 3 months.
If your baby seems insatiably hungry or has little appetite at all, check with your pediatrician.
Your baby may be teething, which can make them cranky. But teething rarely causes a fever. If your baby has a fever over 101 Fahrenheit, they are probably ill. See their doctor.
Keep encouraging your baby’s development with conversation, brightly colored toys, and interaction.
Remember: While you’re breastfeeding, limit the alcohol. Experts advise not drinking if you’re breastfeeding.
Questions? Ask your pediatrician.