The introduction of solid foods is a big milestone in your baby’s life because it is the period that helps your baby transition from being exclusively breastfed to eating foods similar to what the family eats. However, it is important to introduce solids at the correct time and in the right way to keep your baby healthy.
Starting solid foods too early can lead to tummy troubles because your baby’s digestive system is still developing. It can also lead to unhealthy weight gain in the early years, increasing the risk of obesity later on. Introducing these foods too late can result in nutritional deficiencies because of the increasing demands of your baby.
When To Introduce Solid Foods
The World Health Organization recommends exclusively breastfeeding your baby for the first 6
months, after which complementary foods similar to those eaten by the family can be introduced
in small quantities.
Apart from the 6-month mark, there are some signs you should look out for before you start
feeding your baby solids:
● Your baby’s head and neck control
● The baby should be able to sit upright
● Your baby should be able to move food to the back of the mouth instead of pushing out food with the tongue
● Your baby is mouthing – showing interest to put objects in the mouth, or opening the mouth when food is taken near them
It’s always best to speak to your friends, relatives, and a pediatrician before you decide whether or not your baby is ready for these foods.
How To Introduce Solid Foods
Here’s how you can start giving your baby solid foods:
- Start with small quantities. The major portion of nutrition should still come from breastfeeding.
- Fruit and vegetable purees and strained soups, which are thinner and easier to swallow are better options in the beginning as they are filled with the nutrients of fruits and vegetables while also being easy for your baby to swallow.
- Introduce foods that are regularly eaten at home, like rice, ragi, dal water, fruits, and vegetables. Weaning is simply a transition to eating like the rest of the family.
- While introducing new foods, introduce just one new food at a time and observe your baby’s reactions to the same. This will help you know your baby’s preferences, as well as if they are allergic to any foods.
- Once your baby has more teeth, you can introduce meat, fish, and eggs, as well as finger foods – foods chopped into small pieces rather than mashed or pureed, so that your child can learn to grasp pieces and eat by themselves.
Of course, the change in eating habits can affect your child’s digestion. Your child will also swallow a lot of air while chewing food. This could lead to trapped gas, acidity and stomach discomfort. Help your baby handle these symptoms by giving them a dose of Woodward’s Gripe Water after feedings, which can help relieve such symptoms. After all, keeping your baby’s tummy happy can make this transition smoother for both of you.
A healthy baby is a happy baby, and this starts with a happy tummy!