What are the dos and donts before starting solid food for your baby from 6 months onwards?
By the time your baby reaches the age of 6 months, they are ready to take solid food along with breast milk or formula milk. It becomes necessary to start with solid or semi-solid food after your baby completes 6 months. Till that time breast milk or formula milk provide the necessary nutrients.
Breast milk protects your baby from illness and provides him with immunity. Waiting till 6 months is highly recommended, to feed him solid food, as it gives your baby the time to cope fully with solid or semi-solid food. Your baby will be able to move, swallow and chew it more easily at this age and get a feel of the different taste and textures.
There are many signs, which will indicate that your baby is ready for solid food along with milk. He will be able to sit upright and hold his head steady for a longer period. They’ll be able to stay in a sitting position and be steady for a while. You’ll also see a significant weight gain in him, by the time he reaches 6 months. Allow them to pick up food and put it in their mouth.
Try feeding them some solid food and see if they spit it out or not. If they don’t, then you can go ahead and continue feeding them with solid food. Introducing solid foods is very important as it gives your baby the additional nutrients required by his body. It’s more of an experience; he gets a taste of the different textures, chews, and swallows and develops his jaw movement.
Do’s and Don’ts:
At the beginning feeding your child might seem like a herculean task. But try and remain calm and patient while feeding. Make your baby sit in an upright position preferably on a high chair and tie a napkin loosely around his neck.
• Parents usually start with mashed single-grain cereals like rice with no added salt or sugar. It is better to start with something light for your baby to get a hang of it. It is advisable to start with rice as it is filled with iron and is easy to digest.
• Be patient with your baby, as it may take time for him to get acquainted with the taste and texture. Gradually you can continue with whole-grain cereals like oatmeal, barley, etc. You can also feed them, pureed vegetables and fruits; as it is filled with iron and zinc.
• In their first feeding, they’ll reject solid food, but take some time and be patient and feed them. You can also make funny gestures or tell them stories while feeding them. The key is to be patient and not force them to eat it.
• Wait for about 2-3 days, before introducing your baby to anything new. Let them get acquainted with one food item at a time. It might be overwhelming for them if different tastes and textures are introduced suddenly.
• It also gives you time to watch for any symptoms of allergy, from the food that you are feeding them. If you have a history of food allergies, it is better to consult your pediatrician before feeding it to your child.
• You may experiment with different tastes and textures once your baby is habituated to solid food. You can give them food items of thicker or thinner consistency. Try and give them more variety. Gradually you can move to finger foods.
• Follow your baby’s cues while feeding too. Let him lean forward and open his mouth to eat instead of force-feeding him. Don’t push it into his mouth. This shows the responsiveness of your baby and to follow his own cues of hunger.
• You can start with one meal of solid food per day and increase the amount as your baby gets old and becomes accustomed to solid food. Every baby is different and has different tastes, hence don’t rush him into anything and be patient while feeding him.
• By the age of 9-12 months, you can give them small pieces of fruits, vegetables, soft shredded meat to nibble on.
• If your baby rejects a food item, then don’t push it or force him to eat it. But don’t give up too. You can give them the same food item, a few days later. It will take time for them to accept it.
• Don’t forget to breastfeed or bottle-feed them along with solid food. Solid food is complementary to milk. They go hand-in-hand. Until they are a year old they need to have milk in their diet. It’s important for their growth and development.
• Make funny noises or tell a story and make it interesting for your baby to eat. Dining together is also a good idea, as it makes your baby feel loved.
• Be prepared for your baby to make a huge mess. It is normal, so don’t try and stop them. Let them touch their food and feel it. They might also pick finger foods and have it on their own. It is a sign of growth.
• Don’t go in a panic frenzy, if your baby is not eating sufficiently or throwing away his food. It is just a sign that maybe your child has had enough. Initially, it will take time for your baby to get accustomed to solid food. So try and remain calm and don’t stress yourself.
Deciding to start your baby with solid food is an exciting, yet necessary venture. The key to success over here is patience and to follow your baby’s cues. Do not worry about, how much they eat; gradually they’ll pick up at their own pace.