Among the many doubts and worries that a first-time mother of a toddler has, is when and how she should introduce her baby to solid foods. I mean c’mon! There’s nothing more adorable than a happy baby smearing food all over his/her face – and probably everywhere else too! Starting your baby with solids can be fun, playful and messy! But you can’t simply decide to give them solids and start off feeding morsels of food from your plate. While it’s better that you continue to breastfeed them till 12 months of age; you may slowly introduce solid food to your baby with the help of these tips.
Tips to introduce solid foods to your six to eight-month-old baby
The first thing to ensure is that your baby has ‘head control’. Your baby needs to be able to hold his/her head in an upright, steady position. They should be able to sit well in a comfortable posture, so that they’ll be able to swallow the food well.
Your baby should also learn to lose the ‘extrusion reflex’. This reflex makes your baby use his/her tongue to push the food out of their mouth.
Also read: How To Baby-Proof Your House
Sometimes, you may even start solid foods earlier than 6 months by looking for signs like body weight, which needs to be double of their birth weight. If your baby has reached double their birth weight at four or five months of age, you can try giving them solid food once a day.
When your baby seems hungry even after 7-8 feedings of breast milk or formula milk, then know that it’s time to start with solids.
Your baby may even start showing curiosity towards the food on your plate. This could be a good time to see if your baby is ready for solids. Mash up a tiny amount of plain rice and try feeding your baby one or two morsels. If he/she readily eats it, then that means it’s time to introduce solid foods to your toddler now.
To start with, start with pureed food. It is traditional to start your baby with a single-grain food, however, you can feed them a mixture of rice and some pulses in small quantities (cooked, and mashed or ground).
Also read: Ways to play with a 6-month-old baby
At first, nurse your baby and give two spoonfuls of pureed solid food. Mashed potatoes, bananas, peaches and pears, or ground rice and pulses mixed with boiled water or your milk would make for a perfect start.
If your baby doesn’t seem interested in eating off the spoon, let them smell the food and taste it a little, or wait until they are ready. Wait to see if your baby is hungry or not. Force-feeding will only make them averse to solid food.
Lastly, remember that your baby will need breast milk and/or formula milk until they are a year old. Breast milk provides essential vitamins, iron, and protein in a very easy-to-digest form. So even though your baby starts taking solid food readily, you must breast-feed them until they are 1.
A short guide to what you can feed your baby:
Cereals and pulses: Cereals like brown rice, oatmeal, barley, etc are good for starters. Mashed lentils, green peas, split peas, chickpeas, and other pulses are great sources of dietary protein for your baby.
Fruits: You may start giving soft cooked fruits to your baby initially, pears and applesauce with boiled potatoes or rice would make for a wholesome meal. Once your baby has had several fruits without any reaction, you may start giving them raw fruits after a few weeks.
Vegetables: Vegetable combinations are great to offer to a six to eight-month-old baby. But before giving a combination, ensure that all vegetables have been given at least once or twice. You may even leave some tiny bits and chunks so that your baby gets used to eating solid food.
Milk and milk products: This is also a safe time to introduce your baby to dairy and dairy products. Start with plain whole milk, and plain yogurt; then move on to mild cheese.
Remember, always consult with your pediatrician regarding introducing solid foods to your baby and specifically discuss any foods that may pose allergy risks for your weaning baby.