Baby’s First Food: when to start solid food for baby

Introducing solid food for babies is a mere exciting period for moms, it is also a very confusing stage with a lot of pop up questions that comes to our mind when to introduce, which food to start with, how much and how many times etc.

And if you ask anyone you will get different opinions backed with different theories and researches.

When to start solid food for baby

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  • According to WHO, IBFAN, AAP a baby should be exclusively breastfed during the first six months. Exclusively means your baby doesn’t need anything besides breast milk not even water, juice or Ragi. Mothers should ensure that they are eating a well balanced diet and enough fluids to provide baby’s needs .Some doctors prescribes a Vitamin D since Vitamin D deficiency is seen in many. To know your baby is getting enough breast milk, a 6 to 7 very wet cloth diaper which is colorless, pale odorless from fourth or fifth day of the birth and weight monitoring is needed. If you have started formula supplementation(formula milk powder) make sure that you are giving the exact requirement and also try to nurse maximum as breastfeeding frequently increases breast milk.Research shows that your baby needs nothing other than breast milk or infant formula in the first six months.
  • To start solids baby should show developmental signs of readiness.
  • Introducing solid at correct time is important because starting solids before 4 months is not good for your baby’s digestive system .As baby’s digestive gut is not developed before 4 months it may result in allergic reactions and other illness
  • If your baby wakes up at night frequently for feeding or start feeding continuously (cluster feeding) please don’t think this as a reason to start food. This can be the period of growth spurt. More frequent feeding is just needed, within one week they will get over it.

 

The appropriate time to start food is when your baby is showing signs of readiness.

Signs of readiness for starting solid baby food:

  1. If baby can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady
  2. They can coordinate eyes ,hand and mouth that is they can reach , grab and put it into the mouth
  3. Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue. Tongue thrust reflex is when a baby is born his tongue naturally pushes anything that enters the mouth outward, protecting the baby from choking. It is a protecting ability from choking Between 4 and 6 months the tongue thrust reflex begins to diminish which helps the baby swallow without choking. the baby who are not ready will push the food back out
  4. Baby can pick up things or objects between thumb and forefinger that is he have developed his pincer grasp
  5. Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth. But this sign can be mistaken because at this age baby puts everything in his mouth
  6. Doubling birth weight

Some signs that can be mistaken for a baby being ready for solid foods:

1. Chewing fists, drooling, staring at food these are not signs of readiness. For these babies you can introduce Sippy cups with some breast milk or some amount of boiled water

2. if your baby demands for more breast milk other than usual, rule out growth spurt which usually occur at 3.6.9 weeks and 3,6,9 months when they will breastfeed more than the usual also rule out things like teething, starting of any illness. At this period if your baby show signs of readiness only you can start on solids

Some Points to note

  • Starting solid food doesn’t mean to stop breastfeeding or less breastfeeding. Till 1 year breastfeeding provides all nutrients for a baby. Breastfeeding or formula should be the main source of calories for the baby
  • You don’t need to start with 3 meals per day. One meal per day that too starting with one teaspoon is more than enough.
  • Cereals, fruits or vegetables don’t provide the fat. Fat is really important in baby’s diet for baby brain development and growth which can be provided by breast milk itself if mother is nourished
  • Human milk contains less iron compared to iron fortified formulas .But iron in formulas is less absorbed by breastfed baby. After 6 month additional source of iron may be required.
  • In some babies Vitamin D deficiency can also be seen since breast milk have less vitamin D. your doctor may prescribe a supplement in case of deficiency.

 

Next article: How to introduce food, which food to start with, how much and how many times to give and much more. Stay with us

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Ref: www.nhs.uk, www.mayoclinic.org, www.kellymom.com

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