5 Tips to Consider When Introducing Solid Foods to Your Baby

Proper nutrition is the foundation of a child’s health, established at an early age. By the first 4-6 months, the child’s need for additional energy, vitamins, and minerals increases. The food should provide your baby with all the necessary nutrients for the growth and development of his or her body. The baby’s first foods should consist of vegetables, baby milk products, and porridge. The first complementary food promotes the masticatory system’s development, stimulates the gastrointestinal tract’s enzyme systems, and prepares the baby for weaning.

The introduction of solid foods is your baby’s first step into the world of flavors, the importance of which can hardly be overestimated. Let’s take a look at 5 tips to make sure that starting solid foods goes smoothly and fully meets your baby’s nutritional needs.

Solid foods for the breastfed baby

Breast milk is the best food for a baby in the first months of life. The introduction of solid foods to a healthy breastfed baby is recommended to start at about 6 months old. Breast milk is no longer sufficient at this age to fully provide the baby with the necessary substances. The increased growth of the baby’s muscular, digestive, nervous, and protective systems require additional nutrition.

Solid foods for the formula-fed baby 

Parents discuss when to introduce the first solid foods to a formula-fed baby at about 4 months old. Milk formula is close to breast milk but cannot completely replace it and provide the infant’s body with all the necessary substances, even when parents mix breast milk and formula. Babies on bottle feeding are used to baby formula and tolerate the introduction of other foods more easily. That is why introducing complementary foods to formula-fed babies can be started a little earlier than in contrast to exclusively breastfed babies. We will be guided by the standards of the WHO, which recommend introducing new food at 4.5-5 months old.

It is hard to say exactly when your baby will be ready to chew on his or her own. As a rule, readiness to eat solid food gradually appears after 6 months old, but this is very individual. For those who can’t chew by themselves, Serenity Kids provides various smoothies that can supply sufficient nutrition.

Tip #1: Timely introduction of solid foods  

The common belief nowadays is that a baby should have breast milk for as long as possible. But only breast milk or formula milk like Jovie Goat Stage 1 is enough for a baby during the very first months of life. Then, for growth and development, the baby needs additional sources of nutrients.

In addition, food of different textures from milk is necessary for the baby’s diet and the development of new physiological skills. That’s why parents should take their time with the introduction of solid foods, but delaying it is unnecessary! With the late introduction of solid foods into your baby’s diet, there are risks of nutritional deficiencies in your baby.

Currently, pediatricians recommend an interval between the fourth and sixth months to introduce babies to new foods.

Tip #2: Make sure your baby is physically ready for solid foods

As adults, we don’t think about the fact that learning to eat new foods is not easy. It is more than just a new experience of different flavors and textures, but also new skills: chewing and swallowing solid food.

Specialists say that their timely development contributes, among other things, to the proper, harmonious development of the child.

Before starting complementary foods, consider whether your baby has the necessary skills:

• Your baby should be able to hold his head up without your help, maintain an upright position (not half lying in a highchair), and sit well.

• Your little one shows interest in new foods and tries to taste them.

• Coming in of the first teeth. 

• The tongue thrust reflex. If your baby still has such reflexive movements, it is a little early to start solids. To check for this factor, give your baby a drink from a spoon. If the water is not on the chin – the child is ready for complementary feeding. 

However, the baby does not always show the signs listed above. The process of introducing solid food is quite individual. A preliminary consultation with your pediatrician is a must – only a doctor can confirm that your baby is ready for new food and correctly schedule his or her future menu.

Tip #3: Don’t be afraid to make a mistake when introducing solids 

Beginning to give new products, parents are afraid of the reaction as a child takes a new food. Of course, we must monitor the possible signs of allergy and the frequency of stools.

Be careful and cautious – it is right. But do not be afraid to do something wrong.

There are many questions about the introduction of products that are considered allergens. Moms are reasonably wary of doing this.

However, studies by American experts have confirmed:

• Introducing such products too late increases the likelihood of developing allergies.

• A child with no adverse reactions to food can be given new products (starting with small portions) without serious concern. And, of course, if there is a reaction, the allergen must be eliminated.

Tip #4: Listen to your child

You are developing your child’s eating habits during complementary feeding, not just taste preferences. Focus on your child’s level of interest and appetite. It is normal for the baby’s appetite to change from day to day. If your baby refuses a new food, just offer it tomorrow. Sometimes babies and toddlers need to try a new food more than ten times before they accept it. Offer foods that interest your child, that is, foods that your child reaches for or looks at.

Tip #5: Keep a food diary

Keeping a food diary is ideal for the correct introduction of solids. You need to note how much and what kind of food you gave your baby, how he or she took the new product, and whether there was a reaction from the GI tract or an allergic reaction. It will help to draw conclusions about the baby’s food preferences and identify the tendency to allergies and those products that cause your baby digestive issues. 

Which foods should not be introduced during a baby’s first year?

Of course, modern parents know that babies should not be given sausages, fizzy drinks, and fast food. But what else shouldn’t babies eat during the first year of life?

Fruit juices 

American pediatricians recommend avoiding fruit juice entirely for infants during the first 12 months. Excessive consumption of juices can lead to diarrhea, overeating, and tooth decay. However, infants can and should have whole fruits in their diet. 

And a variety of fruit drinks often contain added sugar, which makes them unsuitable for babies under a year. Diluting juices with water does not solve the problem, as it does not reduce dental risks. 

Sugar 

A piece of cookie or a sip of milkshake – these sweet treats only seem harmless. In fact, sweet foods and drinks can affect future food preferences. And as a result, they may cause weight gain and related health problems in your child. 

Honey

It would seem that honey is an excellent and healthy alternative to sugar, so why isn’t it recommended for babies under a year old? In fact, there are several reasons. First and most important is that honey is a strong allergen, so it is better to postpone its introduction into the baby’s diet. 

Cow’s and goat’s milk

Surprised? Whole cow’s milk is the leading cause of allergies in infants under 12 months old. It also contains large amounts of lactose, a milk sugar that some babies have trouble digesting because their GI tract is still immature. There are studies linking the early introduction of animal milk into the diet as a substitute for breast milk or infant formula to an increased risk of iron deficiency. 

Goat’s milk is actually similar to cow’s milk. The proteins of goat’s milk are very similar in structure to those of cow’s milk and almost as often cause allergies. 

Lastly, it’s not so much a ban as it is a warning. Do not feed your child exclusively rice porridge – be sure to alternate them with other foods. Rice cereal products may contain arsenic – in small amounts, but more than other baby cereals (yes, they do contain arsenic, too). Minimize the risks.

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