This is a guest post by Eve B
Most mothers start their babies on solids at the 4 to 6 months mark. For Hannah, I introduced her first rice cereals at 5 months old as I wanted to be the one who introduced solids to her, as I had to return to work for a month to serve my leaving notice.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that a baby be exclusively breastfed till 6 months olds before starting on solids. Breastmilk can provide baby with all the nutrition he needs till 6 months. Introducing solids too early might cause the baby to reduce the milk intake as a result of consuming more solids. Research has shown that introducing solids early do not cause the baby to sleep better at night. So do take note of that if you are tempted to introduce solids to baby earlier.
However, I feel that different children are ready at different times. Anywhere from 4 months to 6 months would be a good time to start. Starting too early might be dangerous as the child might not be able to hold his head or sit in an upright position and starting too late would cause certain tastes or preferences to be already formed. Also, the latter might also delay a baby’s growth, cause iron-deficiency in exclusively breastfed babies and also cause the baby to develop food allergies.
Why 4 to 6 months?
This is the time when babies’ digestive systems develop necessary enzymes to digest more complex food, other than milk. It is also the time when babies can sit upright and their tongue thrust reflex diminishes. The tongue-thrust reflex acts as a protection against for babies under 4 months to push out any choking hazards. Babies will use their tongues to push out foreign objects that might cause choking before 4 months. Hence, it is not advisable to start baby too early.
I would recommend starting with organic brown rice cereal first, mixing it with either breastmilk or formula to get baby to be used to the taste. Other foods you could get your baby to start on is avocado, banana or mashed butternut squash, mashed carrots or potatoes. Try out each food item at a time for 3-4 days, to check for any allergy that baby might have. You might want to expose your child’s tastebuds to what the world has to offer for food so that they will not be picky eaters.
For the initial months of introducing solids, I would recommend keeping the food in their natural flavours, without putting any artificial flavour enhancers or even salt or sugar. Fruits or vegetables are highly recommended as first foods. Just make sure that your child is able to swallow or chew the food.
Recently, I have discovered a Fresh Fruit pacifier that enables your child to taste the juices or flavours of a fruit, without the hassle of juicing the fruit. The only thing you have to do is cut the fruit up to the size of what the pacifier can hold. Baby can suck and gain the nutrients of the fruit, without the hassle of chewing on it. This might be a way to introduce new taste sensations to your baby.
Things to note:
- Always make sure that a caregiver is with your child during feeding. Watch out for signs of choking or gagging.
- Never feed a child when he or she is crying.
- Feel free to check with your child’s doctor before introducing baby to solids.
- Enjoy this milestone! Slowly, from simple foods, your babies who turn into toddlers will be sharing your food in no time.