Like most first time moms, even I was wondering when I should start solid food for my daughter, how should I introduce it, what should be given etc. While most pediatricians recommend starting solid food only after 6 months, the elders in the family say that we can start solid food as early as 4 months if the baby shows cues like ability to sit up, insufficient weight gain and hunger signs inspite of regular breast feeding etc. To start solids, brunch time is a best time because the kid will be a bit active which will aid digestion and will give parents to identify and deal with allergies to food if any.
• Introduce one food at a time
Some infants will be allergic to a specific food. To identify what food type the child may be allergic; we should introduce only one food type at a time and continue that for atleast one week. If the child is not allergic for a week then we can introduce next food along with the ones already introduced.
• Go Slow
Offer small quantity of solid food. Baby’s intestine will not be mature enough to take much in the initial days. Another way to make eating solids easy the first time is to give the baby some milk first, and then switch to a very small amount of food and then finish off with more milk. This will prevent a baby from getting frustrated when she is very hungry. As the amount of solid food intake increases, the baby may not take the top up of milk after the solid feed.There is no fixed rule about how much to offer at each meal. Start slowly and increase gradually. Some infants enjoy and tolerate solids and want more. Some are slower and prefer to take in more milk in the initial months.
• Respect Baby’s appetite and food preference
Do not force the Kids to take the food when the kid refuses continuously, Go back to breast feeding or milk feeds for a week or two, and then try again. Feed the baby in a relaxed and enjoyable manner. Respect a baby’s appetite and food preferences. Forcing and coaxing inevitably leads to feeding problems.
• Offer Variety
Offer variety in the type of food offered to understand baby’s palate and also to provide balanced diet as the baby grows. You can start with smashed/pureed vegetables or fruits for the first few months and then gradually introduce all other food categories like pulses, grains, egg and meat. While introducing egg start with yolk as some of the infants might be allergic to egg white. Egg and meat are safe to introduce only after month 9 as they are hard to digest.
• Prevent from Chocking
Infants often swallow without chewing which leads to choking. To prevent chocking make the child sit up when you introduce solids. Offer food in small quantity smashed or cut into small bits. Do not give the following foods to infants: nuts, uncooked peas, grapes, popcorn, and sweets.
• Finger food and self feeding
Finger food can be started once the baby starts teething. Give small piece of toast, bread sticks, biscuit, fruits or boiled vegetables to nibble. As your baby’s Hand to mouth co-ordination improves, let them start eating with their hands or give them a spoon. Encourage them to eat by themselves. You can help them fill the spoon with food, but leave the actual feeding to the baby. You will be surprised to know how much they will enjoy their food when they eat of their own.