Thinking of starting baby on solid food? If you notice your baby is getting interested in what is on your plate, it may be the right time to consider introducing solids to baby.
Although some doctors may disagree, most new research shows that the best time to start a breastfeed baby on solid foods is after six months. Breast milk provides all the nutrition that your baby needs and is the best food for him or her. There is no need to be in a hurry to replace it.
What are the Current Recommendations for Starting Solid Foods?
The recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends that breastfeeding mothers delay the introduction of solid foods for a full six months.
Advantages to Delaying Introducing Solids
Here are some advantages to starting solid food after six months of age:
• Your baby has a more developed digestive system.
• There is a decreased health risk from contaminated foods.
• Baby has more interest in solid foods.
• Your little one has the ability to sit up on his own and pick up foods.
• Exclusive breastfeeding lowers the risk of your baby developing allergies and ear infections.
• Less chance of mom’s breast milk supply prematurely drying up.
Related Article: Why Delay Weaning to Solids to at LEAST Six Months
How Do You Know If Baby Is Ready?
There are some tell-tale signs that your child might be ready to start solids. They are:
• Your baby can sit up on his own.
• She shows a readiness to chew (even without teeth!)
• He has the ability to pick up food and bring it to his mouth.
• She has lost the tongue-thrust reflex (that makes little ones sit everything back out!)
Don’t Believe the Myths!
Feeding a baby solid food will not help your baby sleep through the night faster. It simply isn’t true.
Top 9 Tips for Starting Baby on Solid Food
* Unless you are actively weaning your baby, remember that at first solid foods should only complement your breastfeeding. When starting baby on solid food, the bulk of your baby’s diet will still be breast milk, with solid food just filling the growing appetite that hasn’t already been fulfilled with milk.
* When you decide to introduce solid foods to your baby, be sure to nurse your baby before offering new foods. She is likely to be more interested in exploring new foods if she isn’t too hungry.
* Remember that learning to eat solid foods involves playing with the food, experimenting with it and generally having fun. When the meal is over, offer to nurse your baby again.
* If you feed solid food before nursing, the baby may end up weaning before you intend for it to happen, as the baby fills up on the solid food and creates less of a demand for your milk.
* Let your baby try a high chair and sitting in your lap. She may eat better in one or the other.
* Just be prepared for a mess. That’s part of the fun for her as she explores these new foods.
* Don’t rush your baby into using a spoon and dishes. Finger foods are easier for her to handle, and she can feed herself. By offering foods that your baby can feed to herself, you’ll be able to tell when she is ready for a slightly larger portion.
* Don’t forget, when starting baby on solid food, not to leave your little one unsupervised with food. While it may seem to be very small pieces, she may choke while you step into the other room.
* Don’t let her have hard foods like peanuts, and foods that are considered bite size like grapes or carrots need to be sliced into very small pieces to be eaten safely.
Related Article: Benefits and Strategies for Baby-Led Wearning
How Much Food?
When starting baby on solid food, offer just a tiny amount of food at first…maybe a quarter of a teaspoon once per day. Slowly increase the amount you give her and the frequency she eats solids as her hunger and interest dictates. You don’t need to offer solid foods every day, either.
Only offer her single foods at a time… like sweet potato or small cubes of avocado. The next week, try something else. This will make it easier to pinpoint foods that may cause a reaction. If you’re offering water in a cup, give only a few sips from a cup at mealtime.
How Do I Know If My Baby is Full When Introducing Solids to Baby?
Signs that your baby is full include turning her head away, batting the spoon, spitting food out, closing her mouth or wanting down. If your baby isn’t interested, that’s fine.
Just offer solid food again next week or the week after. Some babies do not get interested in solid food until they are a year old or so.
Try different foods, too. Some babies prefer to feed themselves than eat something that must be fed to them.
When it comes time to feed your baby solids frequently, offer them several times per day so your baby can graze. They will do better this way than eating three large meals per day.