Babies are the purest form of human life and bring immense joy and happiness in the lives of the parents. As the baby gets older they must numerous essential nutrients for better development and growth. They require solid food to get enough iron after six months as these nutrients go down as they grow. When you introduce solids the baby learns to eat and experiences new tastes and textures from a lot of foods as they are developing teeth and jaws. You can add solid foods to your baby’s diet when he has good neck and head control and can sit upright. The baby will show interest in food and reaches out for itA when placed in front of him; this is the right time to introduce solid food. It is however recommended not to introduce solids before four months. In case your baby is not able to take solids after 7 months of age then you need to consult your doctor.
How to introduce solids:
When you first introduce solids to the baby, make sure that you first give them breast milk or formula and then introduce the food. When the baby is really hungry, they want breast milk or formula to satisfy their hunger and then you can try giving solid foods. As you feed solid food every day, you will know about the baby whether he is hungry, full, tired or interested. At first, you should give about 1-2 teaspoons of food and then increase according to the baby’s appetite. He/she should be given three meals a day in the later stage along with infant formula or breast milk. The first foods when you introduce solids should be smooth and mashed into soft and mushy pieces. Then you can add on minced or chopped foods. With different textures, your baby will learn how to chew which will further help in the development of speech. You also need to encourage self-feeding to make the baby self-dependent.
Introducing different food types:
Feeding a 4-6 months old baby is a daunting task but you need to have patience as initially they might not like the taste of the food and force it out of the mouth. Sit down and hold the baby and feed spoonful of meals like pulses water, rice water, mashed banana, or boiled and mashed veggies. Take care that the baby does not choke as in early stages; they might not know how to swallow it. All the foods are exciting for the baby, so try to introduce new simple and healthy foods every day.
Add iron-rich foods in the diet which are:
- Infant rice cereal
- Cooked and mashed legumes and tofu
- Cooked and mashed egg(do not introduce yolk before 9months)
Besides iron-rich foods, you can add healthy foods like:
- Vegetables like cooked and mashed potato or carrot
- Mashed fruits like apple, banana, and melon
- Dairy foods like yoghurt and full-fat cheese
You can also mix all these foods so that he gets a variety of foods with new tastes and nutrients
Breast milk and infant formula with solids:
The breastfeeding or formula milk should be given for one year along with solids which start at 4-6 months. Solids do not replace breast milk or infant formula and babies can miss out the nutrients, so you can cut the number of feeds or frequency of milk.
When to introduce water:
Once the baby becomes 6 months old, you can give him boiled and cooled water during mealtimes or during other time of the day. Other fluids are mostly not recommended at this age.
Once your baby has reached six months, you can start to offer him cooled, boiled water in a cup at mealtimes or at other times during the day. But fluids other than breast milk or formula aren’t needed at this age.
Which fluids to give at what age:
- Honey should be given only when he is 1-year-old
- Foods containing raw eggs only when he is 1-year-old
- Dairy with reduced-fat when he is 2 years old
- Nuts or hard foods when he is 3 years old as they can cause choking
Tips to introduce solids:
- Give a solid meal when the baby is calm and relaxed
- Offer foods that interest your baby
- Talk to the baby while feeding, which will make him/her interested
- Give your baby home-cooked meals
- Feed the baby during a fixed time every day
- Go according to the baby’s interest and appetite as it may change from day-to-day
- If the baby refuses new food then try again tomorrow
Final words: Babies learn to eat through experimenting so stay cool and patience. Choose foods high in nutrients like dal water, rice water or whey initially and at later stages, you can give mashed veggies and fruits or mashed rice.