Introducing solid foods into your baby’s diet is essential once they are ready, however it might take some time to get them on board with this. It’s important to be patient and understanding as there will be a lot of new flavors and textures for them to get used to. Here we have collected some advice to help you through these often challenging times.
When is your baby ready?
Often parents are suggested to start solids once the baby is in their optimal weight (over 14 pounds) or they have started teething but that’s not always the case. Some babies grow faster and are even born with teeth. Make sure your child is showing other signs of readiness as well.
In general, they should be ready to start eating solids when they are around 6 months old however it depends on the speed of your child’s own development.
They need to be able to sit up in their baby chair, hold their heads up without help and swallow the food. If they are introduced to solids too early it’s likely they will just push the bites out of their mouths with their tongues. They are only used to drinking milk and they yet to develop the reflexes to swallow thicker textured solid foods.
It’s a good sign when they see you eating and they reach out for a bite or open their mouths waiting for you to feed them. They should be able to pick up bites and put them in their mouths.
Keep an eye out for increased appetite. You will notice that as your baby gets older they will need more than what you can provide with breast milk alone. This is a good sign that your child is ready to try some solids along with the milk or formula.
Changing their diet
Time and amount
Make sure when you first start introducing solids it’s in a relaxed environment and you have ample time. It might take them some time to get used to it and be able to eat enough. Start with a few small spoonfuls of food at first along with your usual feeding routine.
It’s very important to teach good and healthy eating habits from the very beginning. Show a good example when feeding from a young age. Try to eat together as a family and avoid distractions like TV or mobile phones. Mealtime should be about you as a family and eating. This will help your baby to concentrate on their food as well. Solidifying these habits from an early age can help you in the long run as well when they get older.
Your baby should be sitting up using baby utensils and this is also the time they should learn to stop eating when they are full.
Dealing with the mess
When you are introducing new foods the process will likely come hand in hand with some mess. This is quite common especially if you want your child to learn to feed themselves from a young age. This is completely normal and them destroying the food you offered doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t like that certain meal. They are getting familiar with tastes, smells and textures so prepare for some messy meals.
Make sure you offer different types of food from the get-go but give your child time to get used to them. Always give them a few days before introducing a new type of food and only do one new flavor at the time.
This is the time you should also start to introduce common allergenic foods. If you have any food allergies in the family consult your doctor first. Otherwise, you can start introducing small portions of these food items one at the time and keep an eye on your baby for any reactions. Common allergenic foods are soybeans, eggs, peanuts, wheat, fish, shellfish and milk.
Variety and nutrition
Remember to provide them with a variety of healthy food options and try different textures. If your child prefers crunchy things try to offer them raw vegetables instead of cooked ones as they might prefer a different texture. Keep in mind that you will need to help them transition from soft foods to solids as well as they need to learn to chew properly. Make sure to cut their food into small pieces to eliminate choking hazards.
If you are unsure as to how to create a balanced diet or your child absolutely refuses certain types of foods, contact your pediatrician for advice.
Be prepared for the changes
Once you start introducing solids to your child’s diet there will be some noticeable changes. Their poop should become more solid and the color and smell might change as well over time. Some small bits might come out undigested as well at the beginning. This is completely normal and should be expected as their digestive system is still developing. Keep an eye out for any diarrhea as it might be a sign or an upset stomach or even some allergies.
Keep in mind that transitioning from breast milk to solids might take some time. Some children will take to it straight away, some might need more time and this is completely normal. Remember that babies rejecting certain foods doesn’t mean they won’t learn to like it. Keep trying!
When introducing solid foods to your baby remember that this is a brand new experience to them and they need time to get used to all the new textures, flavors, and smells. Keep an eye on their signs as there are times they might just not be hungry so avoid overfeeding them. Try to make meals fun family events that your child is looking forward to. This can help you later on as well when they are older and they likely get a bit fussier about food.
How did you encourage your baby to eat solid foods? Let us know down in the comments!