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Be it rolling on their tummy on their own or graduating to a sippy-cup from bottle, baby milestones are always exciting to look forward to. One of the most exciting (albeit messy, inevitably) milestones in a baby’s first year is them finally having solid foods! Your baby’s taste buds will be delighted to explore the different taste and textures of food that await them. Of course, you’d get to express your creativity in the kitchen too! The things you can prepare for your little one are simply endless. There's a whole world of flavours for your curious little one to discover and explore, and starting solids is the first step.
Before you introduce your baby to solid foods, there are several things you have to take note of. Your first questions might be “when” and “how”, and those are exactly what we are here to talk about.
If your baby’s feeding development is like most babies, they may be ready to start with solid foods when they are around 4 months old plus, up to 6 months (ideally closer to the latter than the former). There is a reason why we mention development first - because no matter what the recommendations are, it totally depends on your little one’s development. You will know the right time for your baby to graduate to solid foods when they ‘let you know’ that it is time. There is no rush for having your baby to start early, neither there is a need for you to worry if they start later than the recommended time.
If you are introducing solids to your baby way too early on before its time, your baby’s digestive system may not be properly developed yet to accept solids. Giving them solid foods too early can also potentially cause them to develop allergies. At this point, don’t worry about your kid missing out on nutrition because for their first six months of life, breast milk alone is more than enough to fulfill their nutritional needs. Not to mention, forcing foods may affect their eating habits in the future. They may reject your mashed bananas now because they aren’t ready, but later on, they might reject it because it was once forced on her.
Undoubtedly, anything extreme is never good for anyone. If you cautiously wait too long (for instance, when they are 9 months to 1 year old) to introduce any solids in hopes to not push the food upon your baby, it can result in other issues as well. During this period, your baby may no longer be as willing as they could be before to move on to solid foods. One thing you have to take note of is that when introducing solids to your little one, it is not just about the food alone. It is also about you teaching them how to chew and swallow those foods which are, of course, more work than simply drinking milk. Hence, this aspect should be considered early on. Not to mention, your baby may not be open to new tastes and would prefer to stick to milk.
As we have briefly mentioned up there, while the recommended time is when your baby is from 4 to 6 months old, there are still other signs you can look out for. Consulting your doctor is a good first step. Other than that, you can tell from your baby being able to do these:
No matter what's on the menu, the texture of your baby's first foods should be super smooth and practically dripping off the spoon. If you prepare your own food, you should strain, puree or finely mash it, and then thin it with liquid if necessary. As your baby becomes a more experienced eater (usually around 7 months or older), gradually reduce the liquid you add and thicken the texture. Here are three foods to start with:
Otherwise, you might want to adopt an approach that's often called "baby led weaning," which bypasses pureed solids in favour of gummable solid foods presented in thick, long pieces, which younger babies can hold in their fists. (However, the pincer grasp, which enables babies to make the leap to finger foods, doesn't usually develop until around month 8.)
Introducing something completely new and unfamiliar to a little curious baby is not an easy task, but there are always parents-approved tips and tricks that can help!
Make the food feel familiar
Your baby has yet to know about the variety of food textures as they only consume milk up until this point. Hence, no matter what you start with - cereal, vegetables, or fruits - remember to puree or finely mash them until they are practically dripping off the spoon.
Follow your baby’s routine
If you are thinking of introducing solids at the time when you are still breastfeeding, pick the time when your supply is low or when your baby doesn’t expect to be breastfed. Start gradually from once a day.
Wait until your baby is in the mood
Try not to introduce something new to your baby when they are upset or fussy. This will reduce the stress not only for your baby, but also yourself. Don’t make it a challenge. Instead, wait for when you baby is cheerful and seemingly alert to learn a new thing.
Be selective on utensils
Which one do you think your baby will prefer more - cold, metal spoon, or a soft, silicone spoon that is gentle to their tender gums? Exactly.
Since we mentioned spoons a couple times up there, it is probably good to mention that starting with spoon - even the right spoon - can still be too much for your baby. Start even smaller than that. You can dab a small amount of the solids on your baby’s lips and let them pick it up on their own. You can also place the food in front of them and let them feel it with their hand which, if you know babies, you know they will bring it to their mouth.
To Wrap Things Up
When it comes to teaching babies, perseverance is key. Your baby may not like what you present to them today, but that could just be bad timing or they are not into a new lesson yet. They may still end up liking the taste someday. Hence, do not keep pushing it to them in one day. Instead, try again tomorrow or another day!
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