How to Introduce Solids to Babies:
The journey of motherhood is always exciting and your baby keeps surprising you continuously. Each phase of this journey is important and the most confusing phase for most of the mothers is weaning/introducing solids/complementary feeding.Please relax dear parent!I am here to help you with this excellent and most important phase and make it as easy as possible. Trust me as a friend and I am always here with you to assist and support you dear.Weaning is defined as introduction of any food(including formula) other than mother’s milk to babies.Weaning is also called as complementary feeding because it is mandatory that breastfeed/formula feed should be the primary source of food till one year and solids should be just add-ons.
How to Introduce Solids to Babies:
It has been a year since I began this journey and I have learnt tons and tons from the best paediatricians,nutrition experts ,experienced mothers,lovable family and friends and of course several reading on books and web. I always try my best to keep myself updated as much as possible and I wish I share with all of you here. I will definitely keep this post updated with latest information. So please BOOKMARK this page for your future reference.I am not an expert honestly. This is just an attempt to help you with whatever I have known and learnt.These are the results of my experiences,word of mouth from experienced mothers and friends,studies,doctor advice and personal knowledge.Here are my pointers/ guiding principles on how to begin with weaning ,what foods can be given, do’s and don’ts and recipes of healthy home made baby foods along with few articles.
IS MY BABY READY FOR SOLIDS?
The following are the points to be considered before introducing solids to babies.
- Your baby must have completed six months of age/180 days. This is the prime condition and mandatory condition unless there is a special medical reason for early introduction.
- Your baby should be able to sit with support in upright position for atleast few minutes.
- Your baby should have gained head and neck support.
- Your baby should be able to swallow food. If baby is not ready baby would push out the food out of the tongue.
The below are the usual signs which are wrongly interpreted for readiness
- Baby expects frequent and continuous feeds than usual.
- Baby becomes fussy and cranky to accept breastfeed/formulafeed
- Baby waking up more often in sleep and demanding feed.
- Baby drooling on seeing other family members eating.
- Baby trying to grab what you eat
- Baby beginning to suck fingers
Please don’t be misled by the above points. Early introduction of solids will lead to several problems later .
Here are few reasons for why you should wait till 6 months.
No food is equivalent to breast milk/formula.
Babies can’t digest any other food except breast milk and formula feed including water.
Early introduction are also associated to diabetes,chronic illness and other diseases.
DO’s & DON’T s OF WEANING:
- Be sure to have exclusively breastfed/formula fed / breastfed+formula fed your child till 6 months(180 days completion) and then have a a very detailed word with your doctor before beginning solids
- Decide on when to begin weaning after a brief discussion with your doctor. The most advised time period is after completion of sixth month.It is highly recommended and advised to exclusively breastfeed till sixth month.And till 1 year babies major chunk of nutrition should come from breastfeeding only.
- Continue to breastfeed as long as both of you are comfortable.Till two years breastfeeding is compulsory as per WHO.
- Be slow in introducing solids to babies and ensure that no solid replaces breastfeed till one year.
- Introduce baby food gradually one at a time and slowly. No solid introduction should affect breastmilk intake.(Foods for lactating mothers here). If a solid replaces one time breastfeed please stop the solid.
- Decide on how you wish to wean your baby(Traditional weaning(With purees first or family foods first) or Baby-led-weaning) and proceed accordingly.
- Start with very small amount of food when baby completes six months and slowly increase quantity as baby gets older.
- Always prepare foods with single ingredient in beginning stages and then later after having found that baby is non-allergic to every single food move on to combinations. You can follow the three wait rule to figure out allergies.
- Ensure complete hygiene in preparation and offering of baby food. Ensure to prepare all foods at home 200% from scratch. Nothing can equalise mom-made foods for a baby.
- When you first introduce any food,give it plain/bland. Let baby know the original taste of it. i.e To introduce a fruit,either give it mashed or offer as finger food.
- Start with your own staples first.
- Let baby decide on the quantity.
- Let baby get involved in eating.
- Let baby handle food,feel textures and try to self feed.
- Be sure to include foods with a maximum of 2 cereals/pulses or 1 cereal/pulse or maximum of 4 till 1.5 years.Multi grains are not advisable till 1.5 years.
- Try offering varieties of food.Check all varieties of baby food recipes here
- Make difference in taste and textures.
- Feed nutrient rich whole some meal to baby.
- Follow baby’s cues and your intuitions than anyone.
- Ensure that your baby is safely and comfortably seated while being fed
- Use a bowl/cup/spoon instead of fruit feeder/bottle/sipper.
- Always have a cup of water while feeding and offer it using the spoon after meal. Don’t force if baby rejects.Water might not be required since breastfeed has enough water content. If baby accepts give a few sips after each meal.
- Give your baby her/his own time to accept a food/texture/taste. If a food/ingredient is denied/rejected on a day by your baby ,try it after a week or two. Try,try ,try till your baby accepts it but never force. If baby spits when you offer,please leave it for that day.
- Let baby decide the quantity. Baby will begin to turn face or refuse or spit when he/she feels it is enough.
- Breastfeed/Formula feed before 40 minutes of offering any solid till one year. This will ensure complementary feeding and solids will not replace breastmilk/formula milk.
- Introduce spices one at a time slowly. Refer the complete details on how,when to include spices in baby food here.
- Always be relaxed . Most foods get spilled up/thrown. But be sure to be patient.
- Encourage baby to self-feed,eat with family and get messy with foods.
- Encourage baby to chew food rather than just swallow.
- Ensure that your baby meal is nutritious every time. Your meal should contain all nutrients like iron,zinc,minerals,vitamins etc.
- Don’t force feed baby. This will create aversions and meal time will become battle fields for both of you.
- Never include any ready made/ready-to-eat/store bought/instant mixes/foods/processed or packed foods at any point of time to your baby
- Do not include sugar,honey,cow’s milk and salt in any meal in any form in any quantity.(Palm sugar,jaggery,palm jaggery,dates syrup also fall under this category.Please avoid their usage too)This is because sweetening foods will baby expect sweetened foods always,it will lead to early cavities and baby will develop a sweet tooth and picky eating habits.
- Never give the same food daily after having introduced more varieties and ensured no allergies.
- Never combine more than one new ingredient in a dish and offer on a single day. This will create a difficulty situation when any food allergy occurs. I have listed below the symptoms of food allergies.If any occurs please consult doctor.
- Don’t delay introduction of any food/ingredient except MILK,HONEY,SUGAR,SALT. Recent studies have proved delaying any food will not ensure non- occurrence of allergy. The earlier you introduce all foods including possible allergens the lesser are chances of allergies.
- Never introduce a food that has a family history of allergy without consent of doctor.
- Don’t offer dal pani/rice pani/rice gruel,juices,soups,thinned porridges ,kheers for regular foods. Most foods should be in non pouring consistency. Dal Pani and Rice gruel are said to have no nutrition and they might replace breastfeeding says few experts.
- Don’t reduce the frequency of breastfeed/formula feed after having introduced solids.
- Don’t offer too much of anything. Let baby meal always have varieties in every possible manner.
- Don’t fear to stop when baby stops to accept a meal. Even a spoon might fill the little tummy. It might not be even the size of your fist.
- Don’t hurry your baby. Let baby feed the foods he/she likes in the way he/she likes.
- Don’t forget the thumb rule “FEED ON DEMAND”.
- Don’t always expect your baby to return you an empty bowl. Be happy and encourage when baby completes the food and be patient when baby shows face/spits/throws.
- Don’t try to stop trying. TRY TRY TRY TRY as much as you can.
- Don’t quit at any point of time in this journey.
- Don’t offer foods that might choke like whole nuts,large chunks of fruits. They are hazardous and might choke.
- Don’t offer any purees beyond 7 months.
- Don’t offer porridges for regular meals beyond 8 months.
- Don’t fear to encourage finger foods from 8 months.
- Don’t mash food beyond 9 months.
- Don’t fret or feel disheartened if your baby rejects food for no reason for a long period of time. Just keep offering varieties,finger foods. Put in your culinary skills and try out in every possible way. Babies often go on hunger strike due to teething/growth spurt. Nothing is permanent . So please enjoy and let baby enjoy the journey.
Links for some related posts:(Kindly click the underlined word to read the post)
- Healthy Home made baby foods(80+ easy recipes of purees,porridges,steamed foods,family foods)
- Diet Chart for 6 to 12 months(The sample meal and snack plan)
- What foods to offer when baby is sick?(Foods for babies above 6 months during illness like fever,cold,cough,diarrhoea,vomitting)
- FOODS TO IMPROVE LACTATION & TIPS FOR BREASTFEEDING MOTHERS
- FOODS FOR HEALTHY WEIGHT GAIN IN BABIES,INFANTS,TODDLERS
- FLAVORS TO FIRST FOODS-ADDING SPICES TO BABY FOODS
- Preventive tips and home remedies for constipation
- CARE THE LITTLE CURVE-How to care your baby’s teeth?
- Growing a non-fussy/non-picky eater(Tips to develop healthy eating habits)
- My success story-To get my child eat right
- Top mistakes which make life-saving medicines life killing
- Pregnancy myths and truths
- The first few-What would your teach your baby first?
- A lone mom’s day-Motherhood fun and fuss of a first time mother
- IAP Immunization schedule_2014(The latest vaccination schedule)
THREE DAY WAIT RULE:
This rule will help you to know if the newly introduced food brings any allergy to your little one. It is the best way way to check for food in sensitivities/allergies if any.This is one rule which is recommended in the early stages of weaning.Though many say this has become obsolete it still helps in identifying allergies. When you try a food over a period of time,you can observe the reaction better. If the baby develops symptoms like vomiting,diarrhea,rashes,skin allergies,swollen face,whizzing,lethargy or hyperactivity,mucous stools,rash around mouth/anus/cheeks,runny nose and any irrelevant episode of illness ,please be careful and consult your doctor immediately. As per the rule , if you introduce carrot(mashed) on tuesday then wait till friday to introduce the next new food. This rule is said to be obsolete. However it might be useful in knowing allergies easily. Hence have made it a point. You can very well introduce a new food everyday and watch keenly.
Below are few important points which I would like to stress
- Recent studies say that “all family foods can be offered to baby from six months except cow’s milk,sugar,salt and honey”. Hence the question of when to introduce a food A becomes invalid.
- It is not mandatory to start with fruit or vegetable or porridges or any type of food. Recent recommendations from IAP & AAP are for family foods from six months.
- I would recommend you to start with vegetable or fruit or whole grain cereal(thick non pouring porridge)
- Gradually increase the consistency and frequency of solids as babies grow older to suit their needs. A sample diet chart (month wise) is available here for your reference.Refer diet plan(sample) here for 6 months to 12 months
- If you feel your baby might be allergic to an ingredient just watch for reactions carefully and recent studies say that “delaying introduction of an allergen does not avoid allergy and it is better to include almost 90% of home made foods by 1 year.”
- Avoid too many multi-grain ingredients in one single dish till 1.5 to 2 years.
- If your family history says allergic to a food type/ingredient kindly don’t experiment the same with your kid without your pediatricians consent.
- Avoid sugar,salt,cows milk,honey till 1 year. This is mandatory
- Try to avoid any form of sweetenting agents/ingredients in baby food as babies might develop sweet tooth and become fussy towards foods which are not sweet.
- Any liquids like juices or thin porridge/gruel on a regular basis is not recommended for babies below one year.
- During illness,with the consent of your doctor liquids can be offered for recovery. Read here to know how much juice is good for babies.
- Try to avoid any artificial tinned/packed /processed ready-made food that is available in the market
- Babies do the following to show disinterest or fullness of tummy
• leaning back
• turning away
• pushing the food out of their mouths
• sealing their lips together
• playing with the food, and
• pushing the bottle or spoon away.
(Source:feeding infants guide in child nutrition program)
- Whatever method of weaning you follow,whichever solid you introduce first be sure to stop making separate baby food exclusively beyond 10 or 12 months.
- None can give you the best opinion other than your pediatrician/doctor and your instinct
You can follow the below timeline with respect to the consistency or texture of foods.
- Liquid-Breastfeeding/Formula feeding < 6 months)
- Pureed/thick porridge(> 6 months)
- Mashed foods(> 7 months)
- Steamed Solid food/Finger foods(>8 months – end of tenth month)
- All that you eat*(> 10 months)
* Almost 80% of the simple foods we cook in our daily routine . No special/heavy/oily/junk foods included.
The above chart is based on Feeding Infants Guide
Note:Please do not copy/reproduce any part of this article. This information is not equivalent to any medical expert opinion. Always have a word with your pediatrician before proceeding with anything with respect to your baby.These are based on general recommendations/guidelines. Each child is unique and different. So please follow your instincts ,doctor’s advice and baby’s cues.
Articles and websites of WHO,IAP,UNICEF
Food and Nutrition Board of India Guidelines
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