Considering introducing solids to your baby is a good step, but wait a minute! Have you put all the essentials into consideration? Like when to start, what to start with amongst others? Here are the 8 Rs you must know before embarking on that journey of transitioning your baby from liquids to solids.
It is essential to start your baby on solid foods at the right age and stage of development. The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recommend that under normal circumstances babies should have nothing but breast milk for the first six months of their birth. It is therefore advised to wait till the baby is at least six months old. The reasons are not far-fetched.
(1) A baby’s intestine is not ready to digest anything other than milk under four months. This is because anything other than milk can put a strain on the baby’s kidneys and the larger molecules in food are more likely to trigger an allergy.
(2) The digestive systems of babies are unable to produce all the enzymes needed to digest food thoroughly until they are about a year old.
(3) In order for babies to swallow properly when fed with solids, they need to be able to sit up properly which is usually possible from the fourth month.
Naturally, your baby will need sometime to learn how to eat solids. During these months you’ll still be providing the usual feedings of breast milk or formula, so don’t worry if your baby refuses certain foods at first or doesn’t seem interested. It may just take some time. You can start by introducing rice cereal as the first solid food to your baby. It has a bland taste, so babies aren’t offended by a strong taste. You can introduce other foods like bananas, irish or sweet potatoes, avocados, and carrots, all finely mashed. Boiled rice and carrots can be blended with a little breast milk, formula or boiled water. Avoid using salt.
In order for you to monitor and observe your baby for signs of an allergic reaction, such as a stomach upset, rashes, etc, introduce the new foods in the mornings. You should also watch out for severe reactions. If these occur, report to your baby’s healthcare provider.
Start with very small amounts of food such as the size of a table spoon and gradually increase with time, remembering that babies have tiny tummies and cannot hold much at a time.
It is more important to watch out for your baby’s readiness through his attitude than to decide an arbitrary time for introducing solids. Babies are different from each other, and if at six months, your baby’s attitude to solids isn’t positive, give him more time. There is plenty of time for him to explore and eat all the food he needs to eat. Also, if you notice that he doesn’t like a particular food, or just isn’t hungry, don’t force him. It’s all right for him to take a break for a few days, even after he has started solids. Your baby may be ready for solid foods if he:
- can sit up without support. This lets him take an active part in eating solids.
- no longer automatically pushes solids out of his mouth (young babies have this tongue-thrusting reflex).
- starts to show an interest in what you are eating and may seem keen to have nibbles of your own food. If you want to share your food with your baby, first, ensure that it is suitable for him.
It’s normal that much of the food you feed your baby will end up soiling his clothes and getting things messy. Therefore, it is advisable for you and your baby to dress appropriately. Get an apron for yourself and a bib for your baby.
You must ensure that your baby is being fed in a hygienic environment. Babies are tender and are prone to bacteria and infections, therefore, care must be taken to ensure that the environment is bacteria free by disinfecting feeding area and items regularly.
Babies usually love the interaction that flows from sharing a meal with the family. Create the right atmosphere and make meal time a social event by getting your baby to sit with the family so he can enjoy the social side of sharing a meal with the family and some table manners. Play soft music at the background.
Food Table For Introducing Solids
|MEAL||WEEK 1||WEEK 2||WEEK 3||WEEK 4|
|BREAKFAST||Milk||Banana puree and rice cereal||Apple or Banana Fruit purees with baby rice||Variety of fruit purees with baby rice/milk|
|MID-MORNING||Part milk & 1-2tsp rice cereal/flakes, progressing to milk with fruit or vegetable puree||Milk||Sweet corn puree with baby rice||Medley of vegetable purees|
|LUNCH||Milk||Carrot puree and rice cereal/flakes||Milk||Avocado puree with baby rice|
|TEA||Milk||Milk||Carrot and sweet corn vegetable purees||Variety of fruits or vegetable purees|