When and how to introduce solid foods to your baby?
Wondering when should you start solids to your baby? How much should you offer? What is best as baby’s first food? Well first of all you should know is for first 6 months exclusive breastfeeding is best for your baby. Read below given simple tips and then get ready with your camera to catch the most adorable moment of food all over baby’s face.
What do you need to know before starting solid food to baby?
1. Start with easiest to digest n healthy food. First foods should be in pureed form. You may add breast milk to the selected first food for giving a smooth startup to complementary food. Babies like breast milk more than anything else.
2. Start with single ingredient foods e.g. only rice; don’t go for dal plus rice. You don’t know yet if your baby has allergy of any food.
3. Check temperature of food before feeding. It should be warm.
4. Feed the first food when baby is happy and relaxed. Try to avoid time when baby is hungry. When babies (especially of age around 6 months) are hungry they do not want solid foods but the breast milk.
5. 3 days test: continue new food for minimum of 3 days. You want to make sure baby has no problem with digestion of that food and no allergies too.
6. For first week feed only once in a day. First day you should feed only one spoon of pureed solid food. Increase quantity of food very slowly like addition of a spoonful.
7. Do not feed solid foods with bottle, you want to encourage baby to chew food and not swallow it like liquid. Even if baby is not having teeth, her gums are very hard and strong they can chew soft food. Feed food with a soft spoon.
8. No salt no sugar till baby is 1 yr old: Salt may harm kidneys and sugar may cause sweet tooth. Your baby doesn’t know yet what tastes are there in this world. To train her accept all kinds of foods and their tastes, let her try all natural tastes of food first. This way you can make her eat all healthy food without limiting to taste.
9. You may add homemade ghee from second week. Confirm with pediatrician before you start ghee in baby food.
10. Solids do not replace breast milk. Continue breastfeeding till baby is 2 years old.
Few babies can sit without assistance by 6 months; If your baby can sit alone comfortably without assistance then you can make her sit on a baby chair while feeding.
But if baby is not yet able to sit un-assisted then make her sit in reclining position on a reclining chair or with help of pillows. Baby should be reclined at an angle so that she is comfortable to swallow the food without difficulty. Baby’s head and back should be in a straight line. You try it yourself to lean back and see till what angle you can still eat easily. You can also make use of your feeding pillow. Make sure feeding pillow is thick enough to give enough angle to baby, else put extra pillow below feeding pillow to raise it.
Best First food options
Rice: Easy to digest and good source of protein, vitamins, calcium and starch.
In India, rice as first food is the most common and most recommended food by doctors. Nearly all Indian mothers have rice regularly in their meal so it is unlikely that baby has digestion problem or allergy from rice.
Banana: Very easy to feed. It is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese. You can make use of a fork to smash the top of peeled banana, feed the smashed portion then smash the top again. It is an enjoyable food for baby and mama. Elaichi banana is better choice over regular banana. Big bite might pose a choking hazard so be careful. Bananas can be constipating so confirm with your baby’s pediatrician before you give it as a first food to baby.
Orange Juice: Rich source of vitamin C, fiber, phytochemicals, vitamin B-complex, potassium, calcium. It is very easy to digest. Make sure you select the sweet orange.
Carrot soup/puree: Rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene is a good choice as first food. First steam carrots then puree it. Steaming is better than boiling to preserve the nutrients better. Feed the orange juice with a spoon.
Water or breast milk just after feeding solids?
In early days your baby may not need water after having solids. Breast milk after solids is good for first few weeks. You should consult baby’s pediatrician about which option is best for your baby and how you should start and continue giving water. When you start to give water after feeding solids, use properly boiled drinking water. In India many cities have problem of drinking water contamination. In case tap water at your home is not safe even after electric filtering then after confirming with your pediatrician you may go for mineral water. Please note mineral water has high sodium contents and may not be good for your baby. So for safe solution consult your doctor.
After 2-3 weeks of trial of first foods
Once you know baby is ready to try variety of foods (i.e. in about a month of starting solids), select iron rich foods (Still easily digestible foods). Need of iron is the main reason to start the complementary food.
Check the baby food chart and baby diet plan here.
Continued breastfeeding for 2 yrs
Breast milk has higher quality nutrients than complementary foods so continue breastfeeding till baby is 24 months. According to WHO, breast milk provides at least 50 percent of calories for a baby between 6 months and 12 months of age and one third of calories between 1 yr and 2 yrs of age. Through your breast milk your child will continue to get immunity.
Click here for suggestions on convenient equipment and some tips for cooking baby food.
Enjoy the precious moment of introducing a whole new world of tastes to your baby. In some part of India like West Bengal, people distribute the sweets on occasion of baby eating solids first time. After all it is a big milestone every mother.