Should we begin at 6 months old?
You think your baby is ready for solid foods? Starting your baby on solid foods could be exciting and it is a big milestone for your baby's development.
What is the best age to start your baby on solid food? 4 months of age? 6 months of age? Well, this article will tell you all you need to know about when and how to start your baby on solid food so the transition runs smoothly.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your baby should only receive his nutrition from breast milk until he's 6 months of age because that's all he needs and can handle. Babies aren't ready for solids until they are 4 months old, that is when they develop the skills to swallow solid foods safely.
There's is a sweet spot that doctors have zeroed in where you can start your baby on solid foods. Somewhere between 4 and 6 months of age, your baby will start showing signs of readiness. You should be on the lookout for these signs:
Gaining neck muscle control
Your baby can sit in a high chair on his own. This is an important sign because it means that the baby can hold his head up by himself and he can stay in an upright position. This is crucial to avoid choking.
Losing the 'Extrusion Reflex'
Your baby loses the "extrusion reflex". The mouth, tongue and digestive system are ready to start solids, this means he should be able to move food to the back of his mouth and swallow it.
Your baby starts developing curiosity about food. He or she starts reaching for your food and if you offer a spoonful, he may open his mouth, so let him try it.
Your baby has gained significant weight. If he or she has doubled his birth weight, (have to weight at least 13 pounds) and is 4 months old, then his ready for solids.
How should you introduce solid food to your baby? Up until now, your baby has only been fed by breast milk or formula so don't worry if at first he or she doesn't like the food. Each baby is different and has its own learning time.
If you want a little bit of help, take a look at these guidelines:
You should feed your baby with a spoon. Some say that you should let your baby eat with his hands so that he can get familiar with the different textures of the food ( and you can take loads of pics of him or her getting all messed up, that's so cute!); but it's best if he learns to eat the right way from the start. Still, be prepared to do a lot of cleaning.
Be patient, start slowly. Your baby will accept at the beginning, only a half spoon, and that's totally ok. You can make yummy sounds if you like, that helps :) Another recommendation to make it easier for your baby to get accustomed to eating solids, start the meal with breast milk or formula, then give him the half spoon of food, and see how that goes. You can finish with breast milk or formula.
Choosing the best time of the day to introduce food
If your baby doesn't accept the food on the first try, (cries, or turns his head) leave it, and then try again at another time. Introduce solids one meal a day, it's best to do it in the morning because that's when he's the most hungry. In the beginning, your child will only eat one or two ounces per sitting and that's totally fine.
The baby may not like it the first time
Your baby's taste will evolve so, try new foods more than once. Maybe by the 20th time, he will actually like it.
Testing new food for allergies
It's recommended to try the same food during a three day period, and then change it to a new one. That way you can discover if the baby is allergic to a particular food.
Explore textures and vary tastes
With solid foods, your baby is discovering new textures and tastes, so try foods in different forms (puree or mashed), until you find "the one".
Can we introduce baby food while breastfeeding?
The most important food in your baby's diet during his first year is breast milk. For the first six months of the child's life, this is the primary source of nutrition. Nevertheless, your baby needs additional nutrients, especially iron, zinc, and protein.
Starting your baby on solid foods doesn't mean that the breastfeeding sessions are over, food shouldn't be a replacement but a complement to your baby's diet.
At 6 months old, while your baby is making the transition to solid foods, breast milk is still very important. In fact, the experts recommend that you breastfeed your baby at least the first year. Breast milk will provide fluids when he's thirsty and give him important calories.
Baby Food Chart
So your baby has achieved that great milestone, his ready for solid foods. Awesome! Now comes the question of what to feed him? We hope that this chart will help you answer this question,
But before that, always remember to ask your pediatrician or health care provider before you introduce your baby to any new food.
|4-6 months old||Cereals and Grains: Rice, Barley, Oat
Fruits: Apples, Avocado, Bananas, Pears
Vegetables: Sweet Potatoes, Acorn/Butternut Squash, Green Beans
|6-8 months old||Cereals and Grains: Rice, Barley, Oat
Fruits: Apricots, Avocado, Mangos, Nectarines, Peaches, Plums, Prunes, Pumpkin
Vegetables: Carrots, Peas, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Parsnips (8 months)
Protein: Chicken, Turkey, Tofu
Dairy: Plain whole milk yogurt
|8-10 months old||Cereals and Grains: Flax, Graham Crackers, Kamut, Quinoa, Millet, Multi-grain Crackers, Cheerios, Wheat & Wheat Germ, Toast
Fruits: Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Cherries, Cranberries, Grapes, Kiwi, Papaya
Vegetables: Asparagus, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Eggplant, White Potatoes, Onions, Peppers, Leeks, Mushrooms, Parsnips
Protein: Egg Yolks, Beans/legumes, Beef, Pork, Ham
Dairy: Cream Cheese, Cottage Cheese, Colby, Jack, Cheddars
|10-12 months old||Cereals and Grains: Pasta, Wheat Cereal, Bagel
Fruits: Berries, Cherries, Citrus, Dates, Grapes
Vegetables: Artichokes, Beets, Corn, Cucumbers, Spinach, Tomatoes
Protein: Whole eggs (12 months), Fish (white fish such as Cod)
Dairy: Whole milk as a drink, Stronger Cheddars, Monterey Jack, Provolone, Swiss
Guide to nurture a healthier eater
If you want your kid to have a healthy development, healthy eating is a must. That is why you need to offer your children healthy food choices. During childhood, the food preferences start to develop, so take extra care in what foods you served them when they are young because that's when the eating habits are formed.
But, you know what? It's not just about the food you served them, it's about the entire meal experience and other food-related activities where they learn about gardening and taste tests.
Here are some guidelines to help you raise a healthy eater.
Build a healthy eating relationship
Firstly, you need to build a healthy eating relationship. Your and your kid are in partnership when it comes to fostering healthy eating habits, so take care to create a routine and to offer nourishing choices. You can organize field trips to a farmer's market or to an actual farm.
Make eating fun
Second, engage your kids, make nutrition fun. To make this happen you need to mix it up, served them a variety of nutritious choices, and introduce them to new foods. Maybe you can have like a food of the week? That sounds fun!
Avoid a picky eater
Third, if you want to avoid having a "picky eater", you need to let your child help with meal preparations. When a kid stirs and adds ingredients to a meal it makes them feel "big" and proud of what they're doing, and they like to try their own creations.
Encourage them to try new foods
When they are resistant to try new foods, invite them to join the "Two Bite Club", where you encourage them to try two bites. For this, you will definitely have to be patient, because it may take a lot of tries (between 10 to 15) for your child to accept a new food.
Introducing or starting your child on solid foods is a huge milestone in your baby's development. It will open for him or her experiences in a brand new world of textures and flavors. Keep breastfeeding your baby while making the transition, this is crucial to your child's nutrition.
All these steps will put him or her on the right path to being a healthy eater so he can grow to be a strong and healthy human being.