Introducing Solids to Your Infant

By Shaista Tariq      

Image source: freeimages

Image source: freeimages

                         

Infant nutrition means making sure your baby is getting enough nutrients during her first year. Feeding your baby is one of the most important things you do as a parent. Making sure your baby has good nutrition can protect her against diseases. It also helps her stay healthy as she grows older.

Breast milk or infant formula are the only nourishment needed by most healthy babies until they are 4-6 months old. Cow’s milk or other dairy products should not be given until at least one year of age. Your baby’s kidneys cannot handle the high protein and mineral content well until that age.

Daily servings of milk for an infant diet are as follows: 0-3 months: 18-32 ounces/2-4 cups 4-6 months: 28-40 ounces/3.5-5 cups 7-9 months: 24-36 ounces/3-4.5 cups 10-12 months: 18-30 ounces/2-3.75 cups

Starting on solids

It’s worth noting that a growth spurt commonly occurs between three and four months , which may cause the baby to be awake at night and perhaps feed more frequently, so don’t assume at this age that the baby is ready for solids just yet. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currently recommends gradually introducing solid foods when a baby is between 4 and 6 months old, depending on your baby’s readiness and nutritional needs.

Babies are born with a tongue thrust reflex, because of this reflex, the young infant will push her tongue against a spoon  or anything else inserted into her mouth, including food. Most babies lose this reflex at about four months, enabling them to begin taking solid food. Talk with your pediatrician at the four month check up to see when she feels your infant should begin eating solid food.

From around six months, your baby’s regular milk will no longer provide her with all the nutrients she needs—in particular, vitamin D and iron–and her reserves of these start becoming depleted by this stage. The best time to start solid foods depends not only on your child’s age, but also on your child’s ability to sit up, support her head, and meet other developmental milestones. Signs that she is ready, include:

  • Holding her head up; controlling movements
  • Attempting to put things into her mouth
  • Making chewing motions
  • Chewing on her fingers or fist

If your baby is drinking formula, the best time to feed him is 1 or 2 hours after a bottle. If you baby is breastfeeding, you want to start solids after breastfeeding. Also, you want to avoid times when your baby is cranky or hungry.

Introducing new foods

To prevent food allergies, introduce solids in the following order :

  • Rice cereal : Rice infant cereal is the only grain suggested before six months of age
  • Yellow vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Green vegetables
  • Meat
  • Wheat products: Wheat, barley, and oats can be given after 6 months of age

Once you begin feeding baby solids, offer her only one new item at a time. When introducing new foods to your baby, understand that it can take 2 to 3 days up to 1 week before she may accept it. Starting your baby on solid food can be fun, playful, and messy. Some days may be better than others, too, and there will also be times when she wants only her usual milk.

Diet Milestones

Here are the solid foods you can introduce to your baby’s diet at each stage of development.

Milestone 4-6 months

Single-grain cereals. (Fortified cereals give your baby iron, an important nutrient he needs now). Mix with baby formula or breast milk, or water on occasion.

Milestone 6-8 months

Pureed or strained fruits (bananas, pears, apples, apricots, prunes): How to prepare : Wash all fresh fruits, then bake, boil, or steam until soft. You can puree in either a blender or a food processor, or use a small hand food mill; add a little liquid like breast milk, baby formula, or water at first. Make it watery at first, then use less liquid as your baby gets used to solid foods.

Pureed or strained vegetables (avocados, carrots, peas, potatoes, squash):How to prepare : Wash all fresh vegetables; then bake, boil, or steam until soft. You can puree in either a blender or a food processor, or use a small hand food mill; add a little liquid like breast milk, baby formula, or water at first. You can use less water for a thicker puree as your baby gets used to the new foods.

Protein:Pea-sized pieces of cooked chicken, or other meats, or boneless fish; beans such as lentils, black, red, or pinto beans.(Doctors used to recommend waiting a bit to introduce meats, but now they note these are a good source of iron, particularly for breastfed babies, who may not be getting enough. How to prepare : Cut meat or fish into very small pieces; cook and mash or cut up beans.

Milestone 8-10 months 

Mashed fruits and vegetables How to prepare : No need to puree; just cook foods such as carrots and sweet potatoes until soft, or mash up soft foods like bananas and avocados.

Finger foods like small o-shaped cereals, teething crackers, or small pieces of cooked pasta. How to prepare : Cut up to make sure the pieces are small enough for your baby to swallow without choking.

Dairy: small amounts of yogurt, cottage cheese, or any pasteurized cheese How to prepare Cut cheese into small pieces.

Eggs How to prepare: Scramble, or hard-boil and cut into small pieces.

Milestone 10-12 months

Your baby can try eating most of the foods you eat now, if they are cut up or mashed properly so that he can safely chew and swallow. As your baby gets more teeth and learns to chew more effectively, he will begin to be able to eat larger pieces of food. Continue to monitor his chewing carefully, and when in doubt, cut pieces smaller than you think necessary. Be especially careful with round, firm foods like grapes  which pose a particular choking hazard to babies. Chop them into very small pieces.

Once your baby is happy with a variety of foods and textures , she’ll become used to the idea of mealtimes and work toward eating three meals a day.

References:
1  Annabel Karmel.2010. Starting Solids. Great Britain. Darling Kindersley.
2  Glade B. Curtis, M.D. and Judith Schuler, M.S.,2010. Your Baby’s First Year week by week. Cambridge Center, Canbridge, MA. Da Capo Press.
3  Steven P. Shelov, M.D., M.S., F.A.A.P. Editor-In-Chief. 2010. Your Baby’s First Year. New York . Random House, Inc.
4 Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau.  2005. The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. New York. Simon & Schuster Inc.
5 www. webmd .com /parenting/baby 6 www.babycenter.com/introducing-solid-food
 

About the Author:

Shaista Tariq is an M.Sc., B.Sc. in Applied Science in Nutrition and a Registered Holistic Nutritionist.

 

Do you have a young one about to start on solids? Or a wee one who’s started experimenting with food? When did you introduce solids to your baby? We’d love to hear from you!

Your thoughts here
  1. I completely disagree with this article! The World Health Organization recommends EXCLUSIVE breast feeding for the first 6 months, and then continued up to two years with complementary foods. It is the perfect food for infants and toddlers and changes as the child’s grows. Breast milk may have ‘perceived’ lower concentrations of iron, but it is easily absorbed by the baby. Introducing solids before 6 months can interfere with the baby’s ability to uptake iron as it is. Infant cereals like rice, oats etc should be avoided altogether. They are empty calories and contribute to childhood obesity. The crops are almost always GMO. ALSO, their digestive systems don’t even produce the necessary enzymes before age one to properly break down grains. I would love to meet with the author and perhaps come up with a better article that incorporates baby-led weaning.

  2. Thank you Amber, I appreciate your feedback.

    1 Health Canada, the Canadian Pediatric Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, IBFAN, UNICEF, the WHO Global Strategies on Infant Feeding and most paediatric societies around the world recommend exclusive breastfeeding to about six months.
    For several reasons a Mom may decide to formula feed her baby. What matters is which choice is right for her.

    2 Many health professionals suggest starting solid foods at four months of age; many now say you must not start before six months of age. However, most babies do fine with exclusive breastfeeding to six months of age or even a little longer. One should start baby on solids when s/he shows signs of being ready for solids, not by the calendar. The Mom should talk with her pediatrician at the four month check up to see when she feels the infant should begin eating solid food.

    3 There is no rule such as one size fits all babies. The above are general guidelines for starting solids.

    Shaista Tariq

Comments are now closed for this article.

By Shaista Tariq      

Image source: freeimages

Image source: freeimages

                         

Infant nutrition means making sure your baby is getting enough nutrients during her first year. Feeding your baby is one of the most important things you do as a parent. Making sure your baby has good nutrition can protect her against diseases. It also helps her stay healthy as she grows older.

Breast milk or infant formula are the only nourishment needed by most healthy babies until they are 4-6 months old. Cow’s milk or other dairy products should not be given until at least one year of age. Your baby’s kidneys cannot handle the high protein and mineral content well until that age.

Daily servings of milk for an infant diet are as follows: 0-3 months: 18-32 ounces/2-4 cups 4-6 months: 28-40 ounces/3.5-5 cups 7-9 months: 24-36 ounces/3-4.5 cups 10-12 months: 18-30 ounces/2-3.75 cups

Your thoughts here
  1. I completely disagree with this article! The World Health Organization recommends EXCLUSIVE breast feeding for the first 6 months, and then continued up to two years with complementary foods. It is the perfect food for infants and toddlers and changes as the child’s grows. Breast milk may have ‘perceived’ lower concentrations of iron, but it is easily absorbed by the baby. Introducing solids before 6 months can interfere with the baby’s ability to uptake iron as it is. Infant cereals like rice, oats etc should be avoided altogether. They are empty calories and contribute to childhood obesity. The crops are almost always GMO. ALSO, their digestive systems don’t even produce the necessary enzymes before age one to properly break down grains. I would love to meet with the author and perhaps come up with a better article that incorporates baby-led weaning.

  2. Thank you Amber, I appreciate your feedback.

    1 Health Canada, the Canadian Pediatric Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, IBFAN, UNICEF, the WHO Global Strategies on Infant Feeding and most paediatric societies around the world recommend exclusive breastfeeding to about six months.
    For several reasons a Mom may decide to formula feed her baby. What matters is which choice is right for her.

    2 Many health professionals suggest starting solid foods at four months of age; many now say you must not start before six months of age. However, most babies do fine with exclusive breastfeeding to six months of age or even a little longer. One should start baby on solids when s/he shows signs of being ready for solids, not by the calendar. The Mom should talk with her pediatrician at the four month check up to see when she feels the infant should begin eating solid food.

    3 There is no rule such as one size fits all babies. The above are general guidelines for starting solids.

    Shaista Tariq

Comments are now closed for this article.