Introducing solid foods is an important milestone for you and your baby. When you start introducing children to the world of solid foods, you are helping them to shape their relationship with food, establish a healthy eating system and a balanced sense of taste.
The recommendation is to start introducing solid foods between an age of 4-7 months, depending on your child’s readiness. Some babies don’t get the full satisfaction from breast milk or formula anymore at 4 or 5 months. Others are perfectly happy and well nourished from it until 7 months of age. If you are unsure if it is time to start yet, you can always consult your pediatrician.
It is important to keep in mind that during the introduction phase, solid foods are not meant to replace breast milk or formula. At this point, breast milk and/or formula will still meet almost all your baby’s nutritional needs and solids are mainly meant to school your baby’s sense of taste. Over time, you will slowly increase the amount of breast milk or formula meals that you replace with solid foods, but it is recommended to keep breastfeeding or using formula until at least 12 months.
When your baby…
...it is time to start trying solids.
If your pediatrician gives you the go-ahead but your baby is not interested in solid foods or gets frustrated by the process, try waiting a few days or even weeks before you try again.
Pick a time where your baby is happy and relaxed, not cranky. It’s best if you breastfeed a while or provide part of the usual bottle before you try with the food. When babies are really hungry, they usually just want what they already know will satisfy their hunger and will reject the unfamiliar solid food.
Transfer some of the food into a bowl and do not feed directly from the jar, because this could lead to bacteria from the baby’s mouth getting into the remaining food.
Place the spoon near your baby’s lips and let them smell and taste. Don’t be surprised if the first spoonful is rejected. Wait a minute and try again. Babies that are only used to milk need to learn the swallowing process of solid foods first.
Most food offered to your baby at this age will be more likely to end up on it’s face, clothing or high-chair than to actually be eaten.
Most importantly, be patient. It can take quite a few tries before kids warm up to some foods.
Start with single-ingredient purees of veggies. Don’t start with fruit or porridges with added fruit. The sweetness can lead to an unbalanced development of taste and your baby may reject savory foods afterwards.
If you opt for prepared jars of baby food rather than preparing it at home, avoid brands with added fillers and sugars. Make sure you buy from a trusted brand that offers high-quality ingredients and meets strict safety and nutrition guidelines.
Try one food at a time. If, for example, you start with carrot puree, but your baby does not seem to like it, keep trying with the same flavour until it is accepted. It can take up to 10 attempts until your baby is used to the taste and eats the food. Wait until one flavour is accepted before you try with the next.
After your baby is eating individual foods, it’s okay to offer a mix of two foods. If your baby doesn’t seem to like a certain food, try again at later meals.
It is important that your baby gets enough iron from solid foods. Babies use stored iron from when they were in the womb during the first months of life. By around six months of age, these iron stores are pretty low, and babies can’t get the iron they need from breastmilk or formula alone. Therefore, opt for iron-rich foods such as minced meat, poultry and fish, cooked tofu and legumes or iron-fortified infant cereal. To these you can add healthy foods like vegetables, fruit, grains and dairy.
Always watch out for possible signs of food allergy, such as rash, bloating, increased gassiness, diarrhea and vomiting.
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