According to WHO, breastfeeding is recommended to be the only food for your baby up to six months of age. After that point, they recommend to introduce solid baby food with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age, or beyond.
Why wait that long?
- The baby’s digestive system will have time to mature – Human milk contains enzymes that help digestion. Babies cannot properly digest proteins, fats, and complex carbohydrates. So, the early introduction of solid baby food can cause some digestive problems like constipation, gas, nausea, and vomiting.
- The baby is going to have longer protection from illness – It is good for your child if it is breastfed, but the greatest benefit from your milk, your baby gets if it is exclusively breastfed. If you nurse your child continuously for 3-4 months, the risk of respiratory infections, type 1 diabetes, ear infection, enterocolitis, obesity, and allergic disease is decreased. The antibodies from breast milk – sIgA, pass through their intestines and provide passive immunity. The active immunity, following with producing its own antibodies occurs around the sixth month of age.
- The risk of iron-deficiency anemia will be lower – Some studies have shown that babies that have been breastfed until the seventh month of age had a higher level of hemoglobin on their first birthday than the babies that have been introduced solids earlier.
- Eating solid food will be much easier if you start later – Your baby will be completely ready for the transition and it is more likely that you will succeed at once.
Signs that your baby is ready
- It can hold its head unassisted and it sits with minimal support – These are very important premises to eating solids. They decrease a risk of the baby choking while eating new kind of food, and other unnecessary complications.
- It is interested in food that you are eating – It is curiously staring at your plate while having dinner
- It is still hungry after its meal (a bottle or nursing) – You notice that your baby is still nervous after the nursing, looking more to eat. It is hard to put it to sleep and you observe its mouth movements as like it is reproducing mastication.
- Its extrusion reflex has disappeared
Solid food chart
It would be the best first to introduce cereals that do not contain gluten, like oats, millet, or rice. Rice is iron-fortified food, so it is the best to start with it. You can thin it with your breast milk or formula. At the beginning, it will just need a few teaspoons for the meal. Do not force your child to eat more than it can. If it shakes its head or turns away from the spoon, consider it had enough of it. Moreover, if he seems not to be interested in cereals, just wait a week and then try it again. It is essential to be patient and not to give up when something goes unexpectedly. Prepare napkins and be motivated! This is the huge step in your lives!
Continue gradually to add new food – vegetables and fruits that don’t contain added sugar or salt. The best way to serve it in this period is to make a puree by yourself. Bananas, zucchini, potato, and carrots are the best choice to start with. They mesh into a smooth puree and most children love them!
At this point, they can have two meals with solid baby food, like breakfast and lunch, and the other meals remain to be your milk or formula.
It is important to respect “a four-day rule” and to wait to introduce next food for four days. This is due to food allergies that are taking very serious place nowadays. In this period monitor are there any signs of allergy, like rash, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you suspect anything, talk to your pediatrician and ask for some advice.
Peel your veggies and fruits at the start, because of the fibers that can bother your child.
However, this is the right time to introduce meat into your baby’s diet. You can start with chicken and lamb and later continue with turkey and beef. Pork isn’t recommended in baby’s diet.
Now it is safe to combine solid baby food that you have already introduced with new ones. Potato and zucchini, carrot and potato, apple and banana are the most common first combinations that children accept easily. Nevertheless, babies enjoy smooth meals; it is likely they would start to tolerate a slightly coarser puree. That is why green beans, peas, or beef can be included now. At this point, they can handle fibers from heartier vegetables like cauliflower or broccoli.
New proteins like fish and tofu can be added now to their diet. Milk products, cheese or yogurt, are perfect for breakfast in polenta, for example.
You can start introducing the third meal, dinner.
At the end of the 12th month, your child should have three main meals and two snacks during the day. This will certainly be very hard to manage, especially if your kid is too eclectic.
Therefore, you should do everything step-by-step, and to be prepared to take a step back if needed.
Hence, they are likely to accept finely chopped solid baby food now. But if you notice that it rejects it; don’t hesitate to try again in a week. The rejection could continue, which is the sign to schedule a visit at your doctor’s office.
Baby is now ready to try an acidic food, like oranges and nectarines. You can squeeze a juice or just add a few drops of the juice in the fruit puree you usually make and your child likes.
The moment has come to add eggs to the diet. Be careful because eggs are in the top eight of all allergens. The yolk doesn’t contain proteins that cause allergies, so it is the best to start with the yolk. On the other hand, the egg white contains four proteins that are allergy related. If there is any reason to wait with introducing eggs, be patient until the 12th month of age. After the first birthday, you can carefully try egg yolk, and then egg white, monitoring the reaction. If there isn’t any, continue with it, slowly increasing the amount.
The next years will certainly bring other issues to handle with, but the first year of baby’s life is THE first for a reason. It is the hardest period of adjusting to new circumstances. Give your best to justify the expectations regarding patience and tolerance. Your baby will be grateful to you forever.
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