Are you wondering when to introduce solid food to your baby? Introducing solids to your baby is more about getting her used to chewing and swallowing food than providing any significant nutritional benefit.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies should be introduced to solid food and not breast milk or infant formula when they are about 6 months old.
Introducing solids to your child is an exciting milestone. Therefore, in this article, we will be sharing with you information on how to introduce solids to your baby, when do babies start eating solid baby food, solid food you should introduce to her, and some solid foods to avoid. Read On…
- 1 What Is A Baby Solid Food?
- 2 When Do Babies Start Eating Solid Baby Food?
- 3 How To Introduce Solids To Your Baby?
- 4 What Food Should I Introduce My Baby First?
- 5 How Should I Prepare Food For My Baby To Eat? Tips To Apply
- 6 Some Changes You Should Expect After Baby Starts Solid Food?
- 7 Tips For Managing Baby’s Mealtime
- 8 10 Solid Foods You Should Avoid
- 9 Conclusion
What Is A Baby Solid Food?
A baby’s solid food is any substance (as opposed to liquid) that is used as a source of nourishment for the baby. Examples include infant cereals, meat or other proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains, yogurts and cheeses, and more.
When you start introducing baby solid foods, you are helping her shape her relationship with food, and establish a healthy eating style that required her growth and development.
When Do Babies Start Eating Solid Baby Food?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), they recommend that you can start feeding your baby on solids between 4 and 6 months, but the answer depends on your baby. Here are some indications that your baby may be ready for baby food:
- When your baby can sit upright and hold up her head.
- When she is curious, looking at everything around her, especially what you’re eating!
- When she has lost the tongue-thrust reflex that automatically pushes food out of her mouth.
- When your baby feels hungry after getting a full day’s portion of milk (eight to 10 breastfeeding’s or about 32 ounces of formula).
Note: You don’t have to rush this milestone. Most babies are ready to start solids between the month of 5 or 6. Do not start solids before 4 months.
How To Introduce Solids To Your Baby?
At first, allow your baby to try one food at a time. This will help you know if your baby has any problems with that food, such as food allergies. Wait till 3 to 5 days between each new food. Before you know it, your baby will be on his or her way to eating and enjoying this new adventure.
As you should know, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans are the eight most common allergenic foods.
Generally, you don’t have to delay introducing these foods to your baby, but if your family has a history of food allergies, talk to your child’s doctor or nurse about what to do for your baby.
What Food Should I Introduce My Baby First?
A baby can start eating solid foods at about 6 months old. By the time he or she is 7 or 8 months old, your baby can try some other varieties of foods from different food groups. These foods include infant cereals, meat or other proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains, yogurts, cheeses, and many more.
When Do Babies Start Eating Solid Baby Food? Babies First Food By Age
4 to 6 months:
- Pureed and well-cooked meat, poultry, or beans
- Ground, cooked, single-grain, or infant cereal mixed with breast milk or formula
- Cooked and pureed vegetables
The level of iron that is stored up while in utero drops after a baby is born and a baby reaches an all-time low at around 9 months. This is why cereals are fortified with iron and why they’re good early food. To prepare this for your baby, just mix one teaspoon of single-grain cereal with four to five teaspoons of breast milk or formula.
You should not force your baby to continue eating if she shakes her head NO, turns away, or refuses to open up after only one mouthful. Also, if she seems completely uninterested in trying cereal, wait for a week or so and try again. Once your baby is used to swallowing runny cereal, thicken the food by adding more cereal with less water or breast milk.
4 to 8 months:
- A variety of cooked vegetables cut into small half-inch pieces, such as squash and green beans
- Well cooked, finely chopped meat, poultry, or beans
- Sliced bananas or small pieces of some other soft fruits
You may have heard that consuming fruits before vegetables can cause a lifelong preference for sweet foods, but there’s no research to back up this theory. Therefore, it’s up to you whether you begin with bananas or carrots, or pureed chicken for that matter.
The AAP (The American Academy of Pediatrics) also believes that introducing allergenic foods early can reduce the risk of developing a food allergy, especially if your baby is at risk. Common allergenic foods include shellfish, peanuts, eggs, and milk.
6 to 8 months:
- Single-ingredient finger foods
- Mashed banana or avocado
- Soft fruits and cooked vegetables cut into small half pieces
If you’ve begun with purees or you’re starting solids just with finger foods, many babies enjoy experimenting with self-feeding at an early age. Avoid feeding your baby any hard, raw foods (such as apple slices or carrot sticks) at this point. Always make sure that the fruits and veggies are soft enough to mash with gentle pressure between your thumb and forefinger.
The shape of the food is also important. Younger infants often pick up foods with their whole palms, so a mound of mashed potatoes or a wedge of avocado will be easier for them to handle than smaller foods. Remember, you should not put salt or sugar in your baby’s food, it’s best if your baby learns to enjoy it without the added seasonings.
9 to 12 months:
- Chopped, ground, or mashed foods
- Small pieces of cooked vegetables
- Small pieces of soft fruits
- Soft, shredded meat, poultry, or fish
As soon as your baby is able, transition her away from smooth purees. You should include more finger foods with a texture, this includes yogurt, cottage cheese, mashed bananas, and mashed sweet potatoes. She can also use more iron, so try pureed meats like beef, chicken, and turkey.
How Should I Prepare Food For My Baby To Eat? Tips To Apply
Normally, babies can eat foods that are mashed, pureed, or strained and very smooth in texture. However, it takes some time for your baby to adjust to new food textures. Your baby might cough, gag, or spit-up. Thicker and lumpier foods can be introduced as your baby’s oral skills develop.
Some foods pose a choking threat, so it is important to feed your baby foods that are the right texture for his or her development. To prevent your baby from choking, prepare foods that can be easily dissolved with saliva and do not require chewing.
Feed your baby small portions and encourage your baby to eat slowly. Remember, also to monitor your baby while he or she is eating. Here are some tips for preparing foods:
- Firstly, add cereals and mashed cooked grains with breast milk, formula, or water together to make it smooth and easier for your baby to swallow.
- Then mash or puree the fruits, vegetables, and any other foods until they are smooth.
- Some hard fruits and vegetables, like apples and carrots, need to be cooked in other to be mashed or pureed easily.
- Ensure you cook the food until it is soft enough to easily mash with a fork.
- Take out all fat, skin, and bones from poultry, meat, and fish, before cooking.
- Take out seeds and hard pits from fruit and then cut the fruit into small pieces.
- Make sure you cook soft food into small pieces or thin slices
- Cylindrical foods like hot dogs, sausage, and string cheese, should be cut into short thin strips instead of round pieces that could get stuck in the airway.
- Small spherical foods like grapes, cherries, berries, and tomatoes should be cut into small pieces.
- Whole-grain kernels of wheat, barley, and rice should be finely grounded and cooked.
Alternatively, below is a video showing you five Homemade 4 – 6 months baby food recipes!
Some Changes You Should Expect After Baby Starts Solid Food?
When your baby starts eating solid foods, her stools will become more solid and variable in color. Also, due to the added sugars and fats, they will have a much stronger odor, too. Peas and other green vegetables may turn her stool to a deep-green color; beets can also make it red.
If your baby’s meals are not strained, her stools may contain undigested particles of food, especially hulls of peas or corn, and the skin of tomatoes or other vegetables. You don’t have to worry about this because all of this is normal. Your baby’s digestive system is still developing and needs time before it can fully process these new foods.
If the stools are extremely loose, watery, or full of mucus, this may indicate that the digestive tract is irritated. In this case, you should reduce the number of solid foods and introduce them more slowly. If the stools continue to be loose, watery, or full of mucus, consult your baby doctor to find the reason.
Tips For Managing Baby’s Mealtime
Create A Routine
Turn off the TV or any loud music that could cause distraction. Your baby needs focus to eat, so start a routine where you wash his hands, soothe him, and then sit him down to eat.
Understand That Starting Solids Takes Time
Patience! With the new sensation that goes along with feeding, like the feel of a spoon in his mouth, the tastes and textures of different foods bear in mind that all these will take time for your baby to feel comfortable.
Prepare For Messes
Your baby will likely fling food everywhere around the house, especially if you’re practicing baby-led weaning. Just know that this is common and doesn’t necessarily indicate a dislike.
Watch Out For Allergies
To make pinpointing allergies easier, give your baby only one new food at a time and wait three or four days before trying another. Always watch out for signs of an allergic reaction or intolerance, like a rash, hives, wheezing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, excessive gas, diarrhea, or blood in her stools.
Although, all these symptoms can take minutes or days to appear, call your baby doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
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10 Solid Foods You Should Avoid
You should avoid feeding your baby the following foods:
- Honey: It can cause botulism, a serious illness if introduced too early.
- Cow’s milk: Stick with breast milk and formula as a primary beverage until your baby is one year old. You can use cow’s milk in cooking or baking, though.
- Sticky foods, such as peanut butter can get stuck in the back of your baby’s mouth.
- Popcorn and whole kernel corn
- Nuts and seeds
- Hard, raw fruits or vegetables such as apples, celery, and carrots
- Candy, gumdrops, and jelly beans
- Whole grapes and cherry tomatoes, unless cut into quarters
- Hot dogs, unless cut into strips and age-appropriate, bite-size pieces
- Large chunks of meat, poultry, and cheese
I believe this article “When Do Babies Start Eating Solid Baby Food” has enlightened you more on what solid foods are all about, what age to introduce solids to your baby, some solid foods you must avoid to prevent your baby from choking, and tips to manage baby mealtime. If you have questions or have any other suggestions kindly share them with us.