Introducing solid foods to your baby for the first time is very exciting and stressful at the same time. Up to this moment she was fed only with milk from your breast or from a formula. From now own, your baby is going to eat real adult food. Here are some tips that will help you make this transition as smooth as possible while avoiding some basic mistakes.
Introducing solid foods to your baby has to be a gradual process.
On the first day, give your baby two teaspoons of a new food. You had better do it in the morning, so you have the whole day to find out how she reacts to the food. If everything is OK, increase the amount of food to two teaspoons in the morning and additional two in the afternoon of the second day. Do this for four days. And then switch to a new type of food using the same routine.
This method is designed to identify allergies your baby might suffer from. During each four days in which you test a specific food, do not mix different fruits or vegetables. Only after you have finished examining a certain fruit or vegetable can you mix it with another one you have tested.
The dos and don’ts regarding baby first food
There are some basic guidelines you should follow the moment you are introducing solid food to your baby.
* It is possible to give your baby a very small amount of ground food when she is 4 months old to let her experiment with something different from milk, but according to the FDA recommendations, you should start with solid foods on a regular basis no earlier than the age of 6 months.
* The best way of introducing solid foods to your baby for the first time is to bring the spoon to her mouth and wait for it to open. You can also place a small drop of puree on the baby’s lips using your (clean) finger. This is meant to encourage her to start eating.
* Avoid force feeding – The moment your baby wants to eat, she will open her mouth out of her own free will. Apart causing emotional traumata, forcing your baby to eat more than she actually needs may disrupt her body’s natural hunger and satiety mechanisms, which in its turn may lead to eating disorder and obesity at a later age.
* There is almost no such thing as not enough – No need to worry about how much your baby eats. Babies are born with the wonderful ability to regulate eating according to their needs. Some babies eat more while others eat less, much like adults.
Most babies will eat a few teaspoons at the start, and the amount will gradually increase. In fact, quantities can vary from day to day. As long as the baby is allowed to eat as much as she wants, she will grow as she is supposed to.
* Avoid candies, snacks and sugary pudding. They are rich in sugar, fat and (what nutritionists call ‘empty calories’) and contain no vitamins, minerals and fiber. In addition, sugar may cause dental caries in babies who have just started teething.
We strongly recommend that you avoid exposing your baby to candies as long as you can especially during the first two years of life.
* Water is nature’s nectar – The moment your baby switches to solid food, she will require water. Avoid juices or any other sugary drinks as they are one of the main causes for overweight.
Different types of herbal teas (even without the addition of sugar) are not recommended as well, since there is not enough medical information regarding the possible effect of the different ingredients in the herbs on the baby’s body.
* Use fresh fruit and vegetable for every meal to preserve their nutritional value.
* Timing is everything – Introducing solid foods to your baby requires planning meal times properly.
Your baby should be hungry enough to want to eat. However, she shouldn’t be too hungry, as she will have no patience to eat with a spoon and will prefer milk. Make sure enough time has passed since the last meal, but not too much. For example, if your baby breastfeeds every three hours, she should get her meal 2 hours after she finished.
* Don’t offer your baby new foods when she is tired to avoid unnecessary frustration on both sides.
* Allow your baby to get dirty – As you probably know, introducing solid foods to your baby involves quite a lot of mess. She will squeeze the food, smear it on her chair, her face and clothes and throw some of it onto the floor.
Despite the mess, it is very important to let your baby touch the food as much as she wants. By doing this, she will experiences eating through her senses, experience independence and control and gradually develop the motor skills that will enable her to eat without help.
Appendix: allergenic baby food
When introducing solid food to your baby, the menu should include neither honey nor soft boiled eggs before she is at least one year old. Honey is considered risky as it may contain botulinum bacterium. Eggs may contain salmonella. Additional foods, such as fish, milk, peanuts, soya caffeine and cocoa, should also be avoided since they may trigger allergic reaction.