You can introduce solid foods at any time between the periods of 4 and 6 months (although it is recommended to wait for month 6) if your baby is ready. Until then, breast or formula milk ensures that the baby has taken in all the necessary foods. It is also the only food a child should eat until that age. The baby’s digestive tract is not ready for solid food before this period.
Remember that each baby has its own needs and do not be surprised if your child is ready for this step sooner or later than other children of the same age. Don’t let your friends and family rush you. If you are not sure when to start solids, remember that you should be guided only by your baby’s development!
It would be best if the baby had its feeding set to prepare food for her. So you will need a deep plastic plate with interesting patterns, a few teaspoons, a bib, food maker, a high feeding chair, and a sheet or something else to cover the floor so your kitchen doesn’t turn into a disaster. You will also need a baby water cup so your child can drink water with solid food. It will also be convenient to get a good food maker for baby food, so meal preparing can be easy and quick.
Some foods will be convenient for eating with fingers, and some foods will need to be made into porridge and be eaten with a spoon. When you introduce solids into your baby’s menu through play, you will allow your baby and yourself to choose what works best – in some cases, you will give the baby an apple cut into slices, and sometimes you will cook it in the form of porridge. The most important thing is that the baby enjoys it, and so do you.
If you have decided to give your baby solid food before it is six months old, be careful not to give foods that may cause a certain allergic reaction. Avoid cow’s milk and dairy products, any gluten-free food, citrus fruits and fruit juices, fish and shellfish, and eggs. This is especially important for babies born prematurely because they might need more time to reach their peers in their development. Your baby will give you clear signs when it is ready to move from milk to other foods:
Foods are introduced gradually. Every third day, you can give your child a small amount of new food. If you can, mix the new food with those your child already tried. First, you should give it in a semi-liquid form, then porridge, then food in pieces.
Certainly, you should start with mild flavor foods (zucchini, carrots, potatoes). It is advised that vegetables of different colors should be represented as the color also indicates the content of certain nutrients. Cook vegetables in a small amount of water so they lose as little nutrients as possible and then blend them. When a baby adopts vegetables, it is time to introduce meat. Always combine meat with vegetables by adding vegetables halfway through cooking the meat. In this way, the meat, which has a dry structure, is easier to chew and swallow, and iron from it is better utilized, thanks to vitamins from vegetables.
Babies that are 6 months old should have a non-dairy meal once a day. When your child is between 6 and 7 months, it should have a non-dairy meal twice a day, and at about 8 months it should have a solid meal three times a day. It is common for an 8-month-old baby to eat cereals, fruit and a vegetable meal with meat (egg yolk or fish) in addition to baby milk during the day. Your baby can start eating dairy after 6 months.
Always take out on a plate the amount of food you intend the baby to eat, and if it doesn’t eat it, you will have to throw away the leftovers. While you are feeding your child, the leftover food gets mixed with saliva, and that is why leftovers shouldn’t be saved for tomorrow – bacteria from baby’s saliva will develop in the food stored in the fridge. This is especially important if you are feeding your child store-bought baby food from a jar. Always put in the bowl the amount of food you intend to give to the baby.
The baby should be given baby milk even when it begins to eat more solid foods. Breast milk or formula is a basic food for the baby during the first year for 1-year-old baby girls and baby boys. This milk provides the baby with important vitamins, iron and proteins in an easily digestible form.
Only after introducing solids will the baby’s stool no longer be liquid. Its stool will change depending on the food he or she is eating. The problem you may encounter is constipation. If your baby eats too much of foods such as rice, apple and banana, which cause constipation, then it would be a good idea to combine pumpkin, plum and corn for a balanced normal stool. At this time, it would be good to offer your baby water daily between meals as it can also help with constipation.
Don’t overdo it. Determine the amount of food needed for each meal and stick to it. Don’t force your baby to eat foods it doesn’t like. Respect your baby’s taste and avoid fighting over snacks. Maybe it’s not hungry, maybe it’ll like that food next week, and maybe it’s just not in the mood to eat…
Don’t bribe, reward, or comfort your child with food. Instead of food in those moments, give it lots of hugs, kisses, love and attention. Avoid feeding your baby in front of the TV while playing or walking. Try to make the right balance between protein, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. Keep the sweet, salty and fatty foods in your baby’s diet to a minimum. Avoid fast food for as long as possible. Always try to burp your baby after every meal.
When you are starting baby on solids, it is best to choose a time when your baby is calm and you are relaxed. It doesn’t matter if you offer food to your baby before or between two regular dairy meals. It may take some time for your baby to get used to the feel and taste, so don’t be surprised if he or she first spits out what you put in its mouth. If this happens, try again later or the next day.
Avoid giving solids first thing in the morning, as the baby’s first meal after the night should be milk, to help your child’s digestive tract “wake up“ with ease. It is best to give solids to your child no later than 2 pm to 3 pm. The reason for this is a possible allergic reaction that can be manifested several hours after a meal. If there is a family history of allergies, wait for seven days for the introduction of the new food. It takes time for your baby to get used to a wide variety of foods as well as different textures.
The amount of food your baby will eat will vary from meal to meal, some foods it will initially want to eat in larger quantities, some to avoid. When added to the nervousness of teething, moodiness, interest in its surroundings, and drowsiness, sometimes it will be just too hard to feed it. If the baby turns its head to the other side, pushes food out with its tongue, or spits out the food, it means that it has eaten enough.
Sometimes your meals will look like a fiasco. Still, this is no reason to worry about your child not eating. The main baby food in the first year is milk, either breast milk or adapted. Everything that the baby eats beside that is great.