Introducing Solid Foods for Baby
Around six months of age, your baby will begin to show signs that he or she is ready to eat solid foods because breast milk or infant formula alone is no longer enough to meet the growing energy and nutritional needs of your baby. At this time other foods become important for baby’s healthy growth and development.
Because every baby is different, be sure to rely on your little one – rather than the calendar – to let you know when he or she is ready for their first solid foods. Here are a few cues that can help determine when it’s time.
Baby Can Sit Up with A Little Support & Can Hold Her Head
Developing the ability to sit up on her own and having good neck support allows your baby to open her mouth and take food from a spoon in a controlled way.
Baby Keeps Solid Food in Her Mouth
For the first few months of life, babies rely totally on their sucking instinct to gain nourishment. Until three to four months of age babies have a natural reflex to push anything thicker than liquid out of their mouths with their tongues; this extrusion instinct will prevent them from receiving solid foods or spoons. Before you can start your baby on solid foods she must be able to move her tongue in her mouth to allow non-liquid foods to be swallowed.
Baby Wants Food
Has your baby started staring at each bite of food as it goes from your plate to your mouth? Does your little one try to grab tiny morsels for herself? If the answer to these questions is yes, it may be time to start baby on solid foods.
Baby Can Express Hunger
If your baby can tell you she’s not hungry, has had enough to eat or want more by leaning back, forward, and keep her mouth closed or turn away, it may be time to start solid foods.
Things to Know When Your Baby Needs to Start Solids
Before introducing any solids foods to your baby you should talk to your doctor, dietician, nutritionist or healthcare professional.
Start with Iron-Rich Food
Start with foods rich in iron or iron-fortified cereals to prevent iron deficiency. Breast milk or iron-fortified infant formula remain baby’s most important food during her first year of life. Solid foods are a complement to milk or infant formula, not a substitute. When baby starts eating solid foods, she needs to continue drinking the same amount of breast milk or infant formula; begin meals by offering breast milk or formula first.
It is recommended that babies consume 900-1200 ml (30-40 oz) of milk or formula per day at four to six months of age, and 720-960 ml (24-32 oz) of breast milk or formula per day at six to twelve months.
Introduce Only One New Food At a Time
Introduce only one new food at a time to make it easier to observe your baby for signs of an allergic reaction such as hives, rash, eczema, nasal congestion, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, mucous in stool, and/or difficulty breathing. Wait at least three to five days before adding in a new food. If any signs of an allergic reaction occur, discontinue the suspected food and talk to your baby’s healthcare professional immediately.
Keep Portion Sizes Small
Babies have tiny tummies and do best with small amounts of food offered throughout the day rather than three bigger meals. Remember that baby will still be getting the bulk of her calories and nutrition from breast milk or formula until she’s about one year old.
Listen to Baby’s Cues
Although there are general guidelines, there is not one, best method of food progression. Your baby’s likes and dislikes combined with your family history of allergies/asthma could play a major role in which foods you offer your infant, and when you offer them.
If your baby doesn’t care for a food – or isn’t hungry – don’t force her to eat. Keep mealtime enjoyable to ensure your baby develops a healthy, happy relationship with food.
Make Meals a Family Event
Sit together as a family during mealtime, and allow your baby to join you, so that she can begin to enjoy the social side of sharing a meal all together; babies love this social interaction and your family will love the entertainment she provides!