When should I start my child on solid foods? When should they be eating solids? When is the right time to introduce solid food to a baby?
These are all questions that new parents might ask themselves. When should babies eat solids, and what kind of foods can I feed them?
When do children typically start eating solids, and how much does it depend on their age, weight, or development level? All these are essential factors in deciding when you want your child to start eating solid foods.
When to Start Solid Foods
You may be asking, “How do I know when to introduce solid foods?”
Look for signs from the baby. Some babies will hit a four-month sleep regression, are awake more, and are famished. Others may be content with breastmilk or formula until they are nearing six months.
When you introduce solid foods will depend on the individual baby and what they need.
With your paediatrician’s approval, go ahead with solids when a particular baby shows these signs:
– When he is awake for more than four hours at a time during daytime or nighttime
– When his weight gain slows down to less than one pound per month (or doesn’t grow in length) after three months of age
– When she seems hungry all the time but not satisfied by formula or breastmilk alone. This can indicate that their stomach has matured enough to digest food and drink milk from Mommy’s breasts.
The first six months are crucial because this is when babies are most vulnerable to malnutrition.
Basic Baby Food Groups
The baby food aisle in a grocery store can be overwhelming. It includes jar-after-jar and brand-after-brand with every mixture imaginable. Add in the options of cold-puree, organic, or natural baby foods, and your mind might begin to spin.
This is one time where a bit of focus is helpful. On Becoming Babywise: Book Two lists the five foods groups as cereals, vegetables, fruits, meats, and juices.
As you’re looking to start introducing solid foods, you’ll want to focus on cereals, vegetables, and fruits. Meats and juices can be introduced around ten and twelve months, respectively.
Fruit is the best option when you want to introduce solid foods. When starting with fruits, go for something that has a texture your baby can manage, like bananas or avocados (cut into small chunks).
Avoid things like grapes, which are choking hazards. When it’s time for vegetables, begin with something soft, like zucchini or squash.
How to Introduce Solid Foods
When introducing solid foods to a baby, the golden rule is to work slowly and methodically through the different food groups. Introduce one new food at a time, for 3-5 days, to make sure the baby doesn’t have an allergic reaction.
A simple first choice, with the slightest chance for allergic reactions, is rice cereal. Working through each of the grains (rice, oat, wheat, barley)
gives the baby an excellent opportunity to get used to solid food and gain nutritional value from it in the process.
Following each type of cereal, start introducing vegetables by colour (such as all yellow vegetables followed by all green vegetables).
Following the introduction of each vegetable, you can begin to introduce fruits systematically.
Cereals, vegetables, and fruits are the best first choices for babies. When introducing meats or juices, make sure to start with something soft like scrambled eggs or pureed chicken breast.
Baby’s First Feeding
Introducing baby to solid food is an exciting event, but don’t be alarmed if it seems as though each spoonful of food seems to come right back out.
Baby’s tongue will naturally push food back out of his mouth until he learns the art of what to do with the food in his mouth.
With patience, you’ll know that baby will slowly learn how to swallow solid food that is very different from his usual milk.
Consider introducing the baby’s first meal at breakfast to give you a day to watch for signs of an allergic reaction (upset stomach, diarrhoea, and rashes are the most common).
If a reaction occurs, you’ll want to stop the baby food and contact your paediatrician about the next steps.
Introducing your little one to solid foods is an exciting time. Try out the new highchair, grab a cute bib, and pull out the camera to capture this memory. Here’s one more step towards independence for your little one.
When can I give my baby finger foods?
Once your baby can sit up and bring her hands or other objects to her mouth, you can give her finger foods to help her learn to feed herself.
To prevent choking, make sure anything you give your baby is soft, easy to swallow and cut into small pieces.
Some examples include small amounts of banana, wafer-type cookies, or crackers; scrambled eggs; well-cooked pasta; well-cooked, finely chopped chicken; and well-cooked, cut-up potatoes or peas.
At each of your baby’s daily meals, she should be eating about 4 ounces or the amount in a tiny jar of strained baby food. Limit giving your baby processed foods that are made for adults and older children. These foods often contain more salt and other preservatives.
If you want to give your baby fresh food, use a blender or food processor, or mash softer foods with a fork.
All fresh foods should be cooked with no added salt or seasoning. Although you can feed your baby raw bananas (mashed), most other fruits and vegetables should be cooked until they are soft.
Refrigerate any food you do not use, and look for any signs of spoilage before giving it to your baby. Fresh foods are not bacteria-free, so that they will spoil more quickly than food from a can or jar.
What changes can I expect after my baby starts solids?
When your baby starts eating solid foods, his stools will become more reliable and variable in colour. Because of the added sugars and fats, they will have a much more pungent odour, too.
Peas and other green vegetables may turn the stool a deep-green color; beets may make it red. (Beets sometimes make urine red as well.)
If your baby’s meals are not strained, his stools may contain undigested pieces of food, especially hulls of peas or corn, and the skin of tomatoes or other vegetables.
All of this is normal. Your baby’s digestive system is still immature and needs time before fully processing these new foods. However, if the stools are extremely loose, watery, or full of mucus, it may mean the digestive tract is irritated. In this case, reduce the number of solids and introduce them more slowly.
If the stools continue to be loose, watery, or full of mucus, talk with your child’s doctor to find the reason.
Does my baby need water?
Healthy babies do not need extra water. Breast milk, formula, or both provide all the fluids they need. However, it is OK to offer a little water when you begin to give your baby solid foods.
Use an open, sippy, or strawed cup and limit water to no more than 1 cup (8 ounces) each day. Also, a small amount of water may be needed in scorching weather.
If you live in an area where the water is fluoridated, drinking water will also help prevent future tooth decay.
Good eating habits start early
Your baby needs to get used to the process of eating—sitting up, taking food from a spoon, resting between bites, and stopping when full. These early experiences will help your child learn good eating habits throughout life.
Encourage family meals from the first feeding. When you can, the whole family should eat together. Research suggests that having dinner together as a family regularly has positive effects on the development of children.
Remember to offer a good variety of healthy foods that are rich in the nutrients your child needs. Watch your child for cues that he has had enough to eat. Do not overfeed!
If you have any questions about your child’s nutrition, including concerns about eating too much or too little, talk with your child’s doctor.
This article is about why children start eating solid foods. When to Start Solid Foods, When you start giving your baby solids, his stools will become more firm and variable in colour because of the added sugars and fats.
Peas or corn might turn them green; beets can make them red. If your child hasn’t been strained, his stools may contain undigested pieces of food, especially hulls from peas or corn and the skin of tomatoes.
All this is normal as your baby’s digestive system needs time to process these new foods.
When you notice watery or loose stool, reduce the number of solids and introduce them more slowly. If they continue to be open, light or full of mucus, talk to your child’s doctor.
When you give your baby solids, and he needs a little water when it is hot outside, use an open sippy or straw cup for no more than one cup per day with fluoridated water, also helping prevent tooth decay in the future.