Starting your baby on solids is an important milestone. It means that your baby will now have a need for more calories and more nutritional variety. For the first 4 to 6 months of life, a baby needs nothing except breast milk or formula. In fact some experts believe that introducing solids before a child is ready could lead to obesity and increase the risk of allergy.
So when should you start feeding solids to your baby? What first foods are best to eat and how should you introduce them?
As in all things, babies are variable when it comes to starting solids – while some seem to demand more than just milk at 4 months, others seem content with their liquid diet until they are past 6 months. Consider solids when baby has good head control and is able to sit well when supported.
Take a call based on your observations: does baby seem interested in solids – is he curious about your food, does he make a grab for it? Does he seem satisfied with his intake or does he seem hungry? Your baby should also have lost the extrusion reflex, which causes the tongue to push out food.
What to Begin with
Many people recommend starting with baby cereal but some experts recommend pureed fruit or vegetable because baby’s first foods are thought to influence food preferences and choices later in life as well.
Mashed bananas are a popular first food – tasty, nutritious and easy to digest. You could also try pureed green beans or peas or sweet potatoes.
Or you can try ricing cereal too since it is one of those things least likely to cause an allergic reaction. Prepare the cereal a little more liquid to begin with.
How to Start
Prepare a very small amount of food for your baby’s first solid meal. Don’t expect baby to eat more than about one tablespoon – and that is being optimistic! In fact your baby may refuse your first few overtures with solid food, keeping her mouth firmly shut. Don’t despair, try again a day or two later.
Then when baby seems amenable to eating, offer just a very small amount on a small baby sized spoon. Offer a few bites or as much as she seems to want, never force.
Try different types of age appropriate foods so that she gets used to a wide variety of tastes and gets plenty of nutrition.