It's normal to feel like you're drowning in a sea of new information and emotions after the birth of your baby. The impact of these seemingly insignificant experiences on a child's growth can be profound. Babies often get their first taste of solid foods between the ages of six and seven months. That involves giving them a wide range of new experiences with regards to the senses of touch, taste, and smell. Here are some ways to make the process simpler and less daunting than you would imagine.
Don’t rush solid foods
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans both say that children should begin eating solid meals other than breast milk or baby formula around the age of 6 months. Take not that It's not a good idea to start feeding a baby before they're 4 months old. Every child is different though and some may not be ready at six months. So, what signs should you look for to determine if your baby is ready to start solid food?
- Maintains full command of one's head and neck
- Stands or sits up unaided
- Brings things to their mouth.
- Their mouth opens when they're being offered food
- Attempts to grab hold of tiny items like snacks and toys
- Puts food where it needs to be to be swallowed, like at the rear of the tongue
- Takes a bite and swallows it, rather than forcing it back out onto their chin
Try with typical recipes
Your 6-month-old infant just needs a single feeding of solid food each day, and you can feed them at a time that's convenient for both of you. Start with simple, single vegetables and fruits and puree, blend, or mash them. You can try parsnip, broccoli, sweet potato, potato, carrot, apple, pear, and other fruits and vegetables. Your baby's regular milk can also be mixed with baby rice. Of course, as a reminder, make sure any cooked food has completely cooled down before giving it to your baby.
It's vital to serve your child meals that are the correct texture for his or her development, as some foods can pose a choking hazard. Foods that dissolve quickly in the mouth without chewing are ideal for preventing choking. Smooth, easily digestible foods like those that have been mashed, pureed, or strained will help your baby eat easily. It may take some time for your infant to become accustomed to the texture of new foods. So, it's possible that your baby could throw up, gag, or cough the first time. Your little one can eat thicker, lumpier foods as their oral skills improve.
Take note of food allergies
Encourage your baby to try foods that only include one new ingredient at a time. Find out whether your kid has any issues with that food, such allergies, by giving it a try one at a time. Before giving them another new food to try, it's best to way 3 to 5 days. Babies should be introduced to possibly allergic foods along with other complementary diets. Possible allergenic foods are cow’s milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, and sesame. Preventing food allergies by postponing the introduction of these foods has not been proven.
As such, your baby may be less likely to develop a peanut allergy if they are exposed to peanut-containing foods at an early age. However, if your baby has a family history of food allergies, it's best to introduce them to potentially allergic foods at home, where an oral antihistamine can be administered. There should be no reaction before introducing the food in increasing amounts.
*Note: Cow’s milk is not recommended for babies who are younger than 12 months old.
Start with basic baby cereal
When deciding what to feed their baby, the majority of parents opt for rice cereal. The benefits make it a no-brainer, and many doctors recommend it. Babies that have solely been fed breastmilk or formula have no trouble digesting it, and they usually don't develop allergies to it. In addition, it is iron-fortified, which is very important because babies' iron levels begin to diminish at roughly 6 months of age.
Keep meals varied and fun
Fortunately, you don’t have to stick with the basic baby cereals as there’s an abundance of foods that are safe for your baby to eat. Throughout your baby's first year, it's essential that you keep mealtimes interesting and exciting. This will make it easier to feed your baby and will also help you pick up their cues. Choose one or two meals each day that will serve as your baby's main solid food, but can also be eaten as snacks. Make sure the textures of these foods are quite comparable while also being distinctive. As a result, your baby may be more open to trying new foods. Keep healthy foods like fruits and veggies on hand as a handy snack as well.
Be prepared for the occasional meltdown
An infant's picky eating behavior could stem from a number of different factors. They may not require as much food as you're giving them, especially if they're teething, overtired, not ready for solids, or all of the above. During these chaotic and stressful moments, your baby will find comfort in eating familiar foods. Picky eating can endure for a long while, but rarely lasts.
Introducing solid foods to your baby can be a stressful experience, but it doesn't have to be. Use these tips to make it easier and less scary. Many factors can contribute to a baby's refusal to eat, so if you're worried about your child's growth or development and notice that they aren't hitting their milestones, it's best to discuss your concerns with their doctor.