Upbringing Your Child
Has your child been clamoring for more even after eight or ten feedings of formula or breast milk a day? Or are those beady eyes keenly staring at the spoonful of rice as it moves from the platter into your mouth? If yes then it’s time you start taking the first steps to help your little one develop the ‘solid-food-eating-habit’
What can be more delightful than watching a baby’s face smeared with food? (Well …it’s not just the face you will have to deal with . Introducing babies to solids shouldn’t be a challenge if you follow a set of simple rules and make sure that your baby’s food is right to grow on (also consult a pediatrician).
What comes first?
Even if you feel that your baby is eager to eat solids earlier it is best you introduce them not before the miniature digestive system nears its half-birthday.
To begin with, here are a few signs babies show when they are ready to move ahead of their liquid-only nourishment.
- A steady head – ability to hold it in an upright position.
- The overall posture is straight while sitting with support
- The impulses to extrude food stop and they are able to hold and move solid food in the mouth.
- The ability to use the jaws in chewing motions.
- Significant increase in the weight (double the birth weight or about 15 pounds).
- Your child may seem hungry even after regular feedings.
- Your child may show curiosity about food.
Foods to start with…
The easiest food to start with is either pureed or mashed food. As the breast milk is quite sweet, such vegetables and fruits are good to begin with which taste familiar and closer to breast milk (in terms of sweetness). These include cooked carrots, sweet potatoes, bananas, cooked pears and apples. Avoid citrus fruits until your baby is 9 months or a year old.
After the 6th month, most babies require an additional source of iron for which doctors recommend iron-fortified rice cereals.
In order to keep babies safe from allergic reactions, these may include gassiness, rashes, diarrhea or other infections, it is better to start with single-ingredient foods. Also, offering every new food after 3 or 5 days interval is a simple way to keep food allergies at bay. You can introduce your child to water if you see signs of constipation. Make sure you keep a check on your baby’s stool as it may change in appearance and odor once he starts taking solids.
How much should you offer?
It is possible that your baby’s appetite varies from one feed to the next. Start from once a day with breast milk or formula and when your baby is about six to seven months old, he will take in solids around two to three times a day. If you see the food splattered all over and nowhere near the mouth, it probably means your little one has had enough.
Allow your child to explore different fruits and vegetables, cut them into fist size pieces so he grabs and sucks on them. It is better you keep feeding your baby with breast milk in between mealtimes. Eventually, you may notice that as the baby develops the habit of eating more solids, the number of milk feeds gradually decrease between. After your child is above 12 months old you can introduce him to a wider variety of additional nutritious foods.