Introduction to solid foods

If you believe that your baby is ready to begin eating solids, talk to your pediatrician about it. Introducing solids to your baby’s diet is extremely important because this way, he will acquire the nutrients needed for a proper development. You might be wondering what’s the right time to begin, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s around the 6-month mark; however, every child is different, and some are ready before that.

It’s important to introduce solid food when your baby is around 6 months because at this point breast milk no longer provides enough iron, calories, protein, DHA, zinc and fat-soluble vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and vitamin C. These requirements can be found in solid food.

How to introduce the first solid food?

To begin with this new stage, choose the time of day that’s more convenient for you. Preferably, select between breakfast, lunch or dinner time and alternate it as time passes so that your baby gets used to eating solid foods at different times of the day. You want your baby to be in a good mood and hungry enough, but not starving. To make eating solids for the first time smoother, give your baby a little breast milk or formula first. Then try giving him very small spoonfuls of food, and end with more milk. After several days, the process can be reversed to ensure that gradually the nutrients coming from the solid foods are increased until the point that you only provide solids at that specific mealtime.

When you are ready to start, sit your little one in a well supported position. Choose any food you want to begin with, just make sure that it is fully pureed, without any chunks, and it’s not seasoned. You can choose to prepare it at home or buy it. Take one of your baby’s spoons and just fill it halfway. Feed it to your baby and talk to him about it. How is he reacting? It is normal for your baby to show confusion, and he may even refuse the food because this is all completely new to him. Don’t worry about it! Start slowly, with a small spoonful or two. Soon your child will become used to this new way of eating and you can gradually increase the amount of food he receives.

If your baby cries or moves away, don’t forcefully feed him. Return to his previous diet of breast milk or formula for a few days and then try again. The transition to solids is a gradual process where your baby will still be getting most of his nutritional intake from breast milk or formula.

When you introduce solids, remember to try each new food for 3-5 consecutive days to verify that your little one shows no allergic reaction; it’s easier to identify it that way. Alternate food after a few days so your baby doesn’t get used to only one. For example, you can try offering meat for 3 days, cereal for 3 days, vegetable for 3 days, fruit for 3 days, then other kinds of meat for another 3 days and so on until your little one tries a variety of foods.

Open-ended toys: Why your little one prefers a cardboard box over flashy toys

“Helping children thrive doesn’t mean providing the best toys or the most expensive gadgets. Quite the opposite; learning happens when children create their own play worlds” (Deruy, 2016).

Ever wonder why your child prefers a cardboard box over the flashy toy found inside?

Flashy and fancy toys, albeit very attractive, don’t offer the endless possibilities that the box offers. Your baby likes to use all his senses during play. With the box your little one can make use of his developing motor and cognitive skills to grab, toss, and put things inside! If big enough, your child might even explore its interior.

Cardboard boxes and other simple objects allow your child to play freely. This, in turn, helps him continue to develop cognitive, motor and even social and emotional skills. Then, as your little one continues to grow he will be able to engage in symbolic play, where these same simple objects not only allow for manipulation, but they can become a house, a fort, a spaceship – you name it, anything is possible!

According to Piaget, babies ages 0-24 months belong to the sensorimotor stage of development, a stage characterized by exploration of the environment. Newborns begin exploring objects with their developing vision. Then as they grow they continue learning about objects by grabbing them and placing them in their mouth. Continue reading

Cause and Effect – Gaining a sense of control over the world

Children have always learned by watching what people do around them, they are born curious explorers. New studies show that even the youngest children’s brains are designed to learn from simply observing and playing in a remarkably sensitive manner. Your relentless researcher is intrigued by the cause and effect phenomenon and will thus learn most through play when he or she can cause things to happen or change.

Early in development, before babies are 2 years of age, their curiosity flourishes and they start to understand the world around them as they begin to have new interesting experiences with toys. They learn that if they shake a rattle, they will hear a sound. If they throw a ball on the floor, it might bounce back up. The simplest toys can activate a baby’s senses and become a learning tool. Babies realize that they can cause things or reactions to occur, comprehending the cause and effect relationship. Through simple observation they realize they can make predictions and figure out why things happen. They learn to initiate interactions with others to gain their attention and receive a certain stimulation; and they also learn they have the ability to discourage an interaction by looking away. Continue reading

Mouthing: Why does everything end up in my baby’s mouth?

Does your baby put everything (or almost everything) she can find in her mouth? And you can’t get her to stop? Well actually, you won’t be able to and you shouldn’t! Mouthing is an essential part of your little one’s development and exploration.

Oral exploration is a key developmental stage. It allows your baby to discover the taste and texture of the different objects that surround her. So when your little one grasps an object and then brings it to her mouth, it means that she wants to explore it further “Is it soft or hard? Can I eat it? Does it make a sound?”

Keep in mind that mouthing won’t be the only way your little will explore her world, in the first years of life babies explore their surroundings through all their senses – seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, and tasting- and the more they are able to explore, the more they will learn.

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