How to introduce solid foods to a baby?

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For the first six months of the baby’s life the only thing they are consuming is breast milk, it enough to fulfill their nutritional needs. But after the age of six months there body needs more than what breast milk can offer. They need more nutrition that they can get from solid foods, it can be a little complicated at first and you have a lot of questions. Here is everything you should know about introduction of solid food in babies.

How to know if your baby is ready?

Your baby should have solid foods between 4-6 months and not anytime before that. There are certain things that your baby will need before it starts consuming solids.

  • They can sit upright and hold up their head.
  • They are curious—especially what you’re eating!
  • They have lost the tongue thrust reflex that automatically pushes food out of his mouth.
  • They seem hungry after getting a full day’s portion of milk (eight to 10 breastfeedings or about 32 ounces of formula).

How to transition?

Breastfeeding or formula milk should be a part of your baby’s diet for a year. Until the baby is 7-9 months they will still drink most of their calories. Starting solid food is basically helpful for her to get used to eating. As soon as your baby seems to get excited to eat than to drink that’s when you should transition.

How much to feed?

  • At 4 to 6 months, feed her two meals, each two to four tablespoons.
  • At 7 to 12 months, feed her three meals, each the size of baby’s fist.

What to and when to eat?

4 to 6 Months

Single-grain cereals are filled with iron and are a great early food. Mix one teaspoon of single-grain cereal with four to five teaspoons of breast milk or formula. Once your baby is used to swallowing runny cereal, thicken it by using less water or breast milk and more cereal. You can also add pureed fruits in the diet to change thing a bit.

6 to 8 Months

It is okay to experiment with food with your baby to know what they like and what they don’t. You should just prefer things that are soft textured or mashed.

9 to 12 Months

You can have a mixture of both mashed food and solids like rice are okay to feed at this point. You cand add mashed vegetables to the diet too.

What not to eat?

Honey

Honey is sweet and all natural but could contain spores of Clostridium botulinum bacterium. These spores can multiply in baby’s intestines and infant botulism could develop. Honey should be completely avoided by babies of 1 year or less. As older the baby gets the more their digestions mature.

Milk

Breast or formula milk is the only milk the baby can digest until their 1st year. Soy milk or cow milk contains proteins that the baby will be unable to digest and even affect the baby’s kidney.

Peanut butter

Peanut butter is known to cause serious allergic reactions. Its thick consistency is also a choking hazard.

Some Vegetables

Vegetables like spinach, lettuce, beets contain nitrates which cannot be processed by the baby’s digestive system. They should be completely consumed.

Some fish

Fishes like mackerel, shark, swordfish, and tuna have high levels of mercury that are too high to be consumed by children under a year old. Some shellfish like oysters and lobster can cause severe allergic reactions, so wait till the child is three before trying them out.

Berries and citrus

Berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries contain a protein that can not be digested by the baby easily. Oranges or grapefruit are acidic in nature and can cause stomach upsets.

Salt

Babies need less than 1 gram of sodium in a day. Baby’s kidneys are not yet well developed to process large amounts of salt. Processed foods contain a lot of sodium and should be completely avoided.

Fruits N Nuts

Seeds and nuts are normally highly allergic. The baby’s airway is small and hence it could also be a choking hazard. Grapes and raisins are firm and large and could cause choking. The skin is also difficult to digest for babies.

Wheat

If your family has a history of gluten intolerance it is better to wait for at least a year to add wheat to the diet.

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