If you believe that your baby is ready to begin eating solids, ask your pediatrician about it. The introduction to solid foods is extremely important because, this way, your child will acquire the nutrients needed for 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.
Useful tips for the introduction to solid foods
- To begin this new stage, choose the time of day that’s more convenient for you. Preferably, choose between breakfast, lunch, or dinner time, and alternate them 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 a smoother experience, give your baby a little breast milk or formula first. Then try giving them 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 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 baby food 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 them about it. How are they reacting?
- It is normal for your baby to show confusion, and they may even refuse the food because this is all completely new to them. 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 they eat. Remember not to rush when you feed your baby. Your little one will probably need time for feeding, so don’t be surprised if it takes longer to put the spoonful into their mouth.
- If your baby cries or moves away, don’t forcefully feed them. Return to their 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 their nutritional intake from breast milk or formula.
- With the introduction to solid foods, remember to try each new food for 3-5 consecutive days to verify that your little one shows no allergic reaction; it will be easier to identify it that way. Alternate food after a few days, so your baby doesn’t get used to only one flavor. For example, you can try offering meat for 3 days, cereal for 3 days, a 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 large variety of foods.