Introducing solids can be a daunting task for any new parent, especially knowing when to introduce solids, if your child is ready and what solids are important to introduce in the early months of your child’s life.
While there is no set age for the introduction of solid foods, it is recommended that solids should be introduced ideally between four and six months. Any earlier than four months is not recommended as the digestive and immune systems of baby are not yet fully developed to cope with solids. In fact, your best guide is right in front of you, that's right, its baby!
There is absolutely no need to rush introducing solids. Nevertheless, there are a few signs to look out for that will help you know when baby is ready. Don’t forget every bub is different, and all babies will develop at their own pace. These signs are as simple as your child’s birth weight has doubled, he or she can sit unaided, head movements are controlled, and they are able to grasp objects. You might notice a change in their feeding and mouth motions for example, progressing from sucking to chomping and chewing, and their tongue no longer protrudes in readiness for fluids.
"In fact, your best guide is
The best and most effective way to start this new journey into solid food, is to start your baby with smooth pastes. Your baby is moving from milk, which is completely liquid and very consistent in taste and texture to an entirely new experience visually, as well as smell and taste wise. So to start with it is recommended that baby’s food is pureed into a smooth ‘liquid paste’ resembling runny yoghurt, using breastmilk or formula to thin the food. As baby develops their chewing ability, you can progress onto soft mashed foods and eventually to coarse and then finger foods.
Initially most babies consume very small amounts, a teaspoon or so, which gradually increases to one or two tablespoons and then onto a ¼ of a cup and so on. It’s important to select clean foods such as organic foods with a variety of nutrients and free from nasties. Foods that are high in energy, good fats and essential nutrients such as avocado, makes an excellent first start to introducing solids. Babies naturally prefer sweet and salty foods. So try not to rely too heavily on sweet fruit.
Fluids (breastmilk/formula or water) should be included with every meal to meet your bubs increased fluid needs and baby’s kidneys are not as adept as adults in processing food and hence need a little fluid to avoid getting constipated.
Leaving the introduction of solid foods too late can impair the nutritional status of your bub, in particular iron and zinc as levels decrease while an infants demand increases and has been shown to affect the growth and immunity of the child.
Remember to take your time with these new foods. The trick is to introduce one food at a time, no salt, sugar or flavourings is are needed. By trialling each new food any reactions that might occur are easily pinpointed.
Food rejection is common, and as adults we can read this as a dislike and stop offering this food. There are many studies that have shown it can sometimes take up 10 attempts at introducing a new food before your bub accepts and enjoys it. Perseverance is the key!
Have fun, it’s a wonderful time for you all
This information has been provided by Rebecca Hare and Leanne Cooper. Leanne is Director of Well College Global, and is a registered nutritionist and mother of two very active boys.
Or why not grab a copy of What Do I Feed My Baby eBook for just under $10 or take a short course on children's nutrition
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