When is the best time to introduce solid foods to your baby? This is one of the most frequently asked questions that first time mothers ask on their pediatricians. 23 years ago, I also have asked the same question not to my baby’s doctor but to my mom. My two sons who are now 23 and 14 years old began to eat solid foods at 4 months old.
Normally for healthy babies, the recommended time you can start introducing solids little by little is at 4 to 6 months old. However, most studies shown that it’s not about the age, there are cases wherein a four month old baby is still not ready to eat solid foods, therefore it is still best advised to consult your pediatrician.
There are several clues and signs to watch for which can tell baby’s readiness for solid foods such as:
- Your baby makes chewing motions
- He can hold his head up and can be able sit well in a high chair
- Shows interest in food
- Your baby is teething
- Seems hungry and not satisfied after several feedings of breast milk or formula in a day
Begin introducing solid foods by mixing about 1 teaspoon of pureed food with his formula or breast milk. Increasing the amount little by little from once a day feeding to twice a day. When giving cereal, start with a runny consistency at first then gradually thicken the mixture by using less liquid until your baby gets used to the new texture.
It is also best advised to use a baby teaspoon and never use a metal teaspoon for babies has the tendency to bite on his spoon and metal teaspoons can injure or hurt their gums. Also be very careful when feeding, give only a very small amount that he can swallow and chew easily to avoid choking. There are times that he would spit out the food especially if he does not like the taste, be patient. You can try giving the same food some other day until he gets used to different tastes.
It will be healthier to make your own pureed food such as sweet potatoes, squash, apples and bananas instead of buying the ready made versions. Make sure to choose on semi-liquid iron-fortified infant rice cereals when buying. As babies will only partially eat the introductory solid foods it is still advised to keep going with breast milk or formula.
Health experts advise to delay giving your babies foods like peanuts, eggs, fish and other highly allergenic foods until age 2 or 3 especially if you have a family history of allergies. Moreover, pediatricians also advise not to give honey until 2 or 3 years old because of a possible botulism risk that a baby's developing immune system can't fend off.
Do not force your baby to eat a whole lot in the beginning, being fed by a spoon is a new experience to your baby, focus on practicing him to get used to the spoon and the feel of having solid food in his mouth. If your baby turns his head away, zip his lips tightly or swats at the spoon, it means that he is done eating.
Photo credits: theinteriorlife.org