4 Steps to Introduce Solid Food for Your Baby
It is such a joy to watch your baby grow and reach his/her developmental milestones. In the first few months, you have seen your baby smile at you, coo when you talk or grasp objects. Now you realize it’s been four months, and you notice your baby already takes an interest in food. You are probably wondering if your baby is ready for his next milestone, eating solids. Let us guide you on how you can introduce solds to your baby.
4 Easy Steps to Start Solid Food to Your Baby
1. Assess Your Baby’s Readiness to Start Solid Food.
We know you might be very excited to start feeding your baby but hold off doing so until you have assessed your baby’s readiness to eat. Here are some signs of readiness to watch out for.
a. Your baby is already four to six months old.
Most Pediatricians recommend babies to start eating solids at six months. However, the latest studies show that you can begin complementary feeding as early as four months, but only if your baby shows signs of readiness, as listed below.
b. Your baby has at least double his/her weight.
Typically your four-month-old reaches at least 13 pounds. This may mean that your baby may be ready to start solids.
c. Your baby loses his/her tongue-thrusting reflex.
Infants’ reflex pushes out food with their tongues as soon as you put the spoon into their mouths. They tend to lose their tongue-thrusting reflex when they are four –to six months old.
d. Your baby can already sit upright and has good neck control.
Your baby needs to be in a sitting position when he eats, and so good neck control is a must.
e. Your baby shows interest in food.
You will notice your baby watching you as eat, and he/she will also open his/her mouth as if mimicking you. Your baby might even start reaching out to your plate.
2. Select Your Approach in Solid Feeding.
You ticked all the signs, and you have received a green-light from your pediatrician. You may now start introducing solids to your baby. The next step is deciding which approach you will follow in feeding your baby.
Traditionally, pediatricians recommend starting with vegetable or fruit puree. You will offer the food to your baby using a spoon. The intent is to gradually introduce texture and taste to your little one. As your baby gets to the texture, you can add more texture and variety.
Another approach of solid feeding is called the Baby-Led Weaning (BLW). In BLW, you will give your baby given liberty to grasp and eat finger foods on his/her own. If you want to know more about BLW, you may visit the website of the BLW founder, Dr. Gill Rapley.
The approach you choose is a personal decision.
3. Prepare the Baby Plate, Utensils, Bib, and Baby Food.
Now that you have selected the approach you will use for solid feeding, it is time to go shopping for your baby’s first plate, utensils set, bib, and baby food.
You have the option to either buy baby food in jars or make the baby food at home. If you have decided on making baby food at home, you will save more because the food comes out cheaper than bottled baby food. Also, you are assured that the food has been hygienically prepared, and it has no preservatives or added flavor.
Here are the steps on how to make baby food:
a. Wash your hands thoroughly.
b. Wash the produce.
c. Peel off the skin and chop the vegetable or fruit into smaller pieces. If you are baby-led weaning, cut the vegetable or fruit small enough that the baby can hold it with his/her hand.
d. Remove any seeds or pits as these are choking hazards.
e. Boil or steam the vegetables until it is soft. There’s no need to cook fruits.
f. Puree using a food processor or blender. You also have the option to mash the vegetable.
g. Put in an air-tight storage container. There are available baby food containers in the market, but you can also use an ice tray or small sealed bowls as containers.
h. Put the storage container in the freezer to prolong the shelf life of the baby food.
If you are baby-led weaning, you can skip pureeing and mashing the baby food.
4. Start feeding the Baby with Solid Food.
The most exciting part is feeding your baby for the first time and watching his/her reaction. Make the experience pleasant for you and your baby by following these tips.
a. Start with solid feeding when your baby is happy and healthy.
b. Taste the baby food first before offering it to your baby. Ensure that the food is not spoiled and that it has the right consistency and temperature. If you are baby-led weaning, ensure that the food is soft enough for your baby to chew.
c. You can mix in your breastmilk into the baby food to make it easier for your baby to get used to the taste.
d. You may start offering solid food once a day and increase it gradually.
e. Your baby will only eat 1 to 2 teaspoons at the beginning. Avoid overfeeding your baby.
f. During this stage, the milk is still your baby’s primary source of nutrition, so continue breastfeeding or formula feeding.
g. Introduce one vegetable or fruit every two to three days. Watch for any signs of allergy like rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach discomfort. In case your child is allergic, stop feeding the food your baby is allergic to and consult your pediatrician. You may need to rush to the Emergency Room, depending on the severity of the allergy.
h. Hold off feeding your baby with egg, nuts, honey and other common food allergens until your baby reaches one year old.
i. Avoid feeding your baby food that is a choking hazard. Common examples are grapes, apples, and nuts.
j. Do not put any salt or sugar into your baby food.
k. Do not be frustrated if your baby spits up the food. Your baby is familiarizing himself/herself with the textures and the flavors of the food. If the baby does not like the vegetable now, you can try to offer it again some other time.
l. Do not leave your baby unattended during feeding time. It is best if you know how to conduct CPR in case your baby chokes while eating.
Always keep in mind that your little one needs time to adjust to the experience of eating solids. Do not pressure your child to eat, and just enjoy the whole process. Every baby has its own pace, and you just need to follow it.
Care to share your experiences on feeding solids to your little one? Send your thoughts in the comment box below.
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