There is no exact age to introduce solid foods, but it is recommended that both breastfed and formula-fed babies start complementary feeding at 4-6 months. At the age of 6 months, the child’s needs for energy and minerals increase. However, all babies are different, and some may be ready for it even at 4 months which is the earliest age when complementary foods can be introduced.
The child’s digestive tract is immature to absorb any food other than breast milk or formula until then. Only your doctor can assess each child’s readiness, and it is important to continue breastfeeding, gradually introducing solid foods along with it.
The doctor will try to establish the key signs that your baby is ready to eat solid foods:
- The baby can sit up independently without support or sit on the mom’s lap and hold his or her head up.
- The baby’s tongue-thrust reflex, a natural food rejection reaction in which the baby pushes the spoon out with his tongue (the baby no longer sticks out his tongue when he eats), has disappeared.
- The child has an active food interest (a desire to try something from the table while adults eat).
Once the baby has mastered the skills necessary to eat independently, including holding the head well, you can begin to introduce more solid foods into the diet.
Tip 1: You can try to introduce solid foods between 4 and 6 months
Today, a baby may have breast milk for as long as possible. But breast milk or formula milk is enough for a baby only during the first months of life. For further proper growth and development, the baby needs additional sources of nutrients. Pediatricians emphasize that a child needs extra minerals and other nutrients at a certain point.
In addition, food of a different consistency from milk is necessary for the baby’s diet. This develops new physiological skills in babies. That’s why parents should not rush the introduction of solid foods, but delaying it is unnecessary! Today, pediatricians recommend the interval between the fourth and sixth months.
Tip 2: Keep an eye on your baby’s physical readiness for complementary foods
As adults, we don’t think about the fact that learning to eat new foods is not easy. It is not only a different taste and consistency but also new skills: chewing and swallowing solid food.
Specialists say that their timely development contributes, among other things, to the correct, harmonious development of the child.
We recommend parents pay attention to how the baby handles the new food. If it falls out of the mouth and the baby does not try to chew it or push it deep into the mouth, there is no need to rush with complementary foods. It would be better to wait a little longer.
Tip 3: Stick to the complementary feeding schedule
Today there are different strategies for complementary feeding. Some parents offer their children to choose food from the plate independently, what they want and how much they want.
Not all pediatricians share this approach: with such a diet, the child will not get all the nutrients he or she really needs.
There are also different stages of solid feeding. Introduce them gradually, starting with a spoonful and then up to the age-appropriate rate.
For example, the first stage should consist of a single-ingredient vegetable puree: zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli. If you introduce a two-component puree and the baby is allergic, you will not know which component triggers allergy symptoms.
Regardless of the baby’s age, solid foods must not contain sugar, salt, starch, preservatives, and flavorings. So always carefully read the composition of products for your little one and choose quality and organic baby food on reliable platforms like organicsbestshop.com.
Tip 4: Be careful, but don’t be afraid of complementary foods
Beginning to give new products, parents often worry about what will be the reaction, how the child will perceive the new food. Of course, we must watch for possible allergic reactions. Be careful – it’s right. But do not be afraid to do something wrong.
There are many questions about the introduction of foods that are considered allergens. Moms are reasonably wary of doing this. However, studies by American experts have confirmed if you start introducing such products too late, developing allergies only increases.
Tip 5: Listen to your child
Parents develop healthy eating habits in babies when introducing solid foods, not just taste. If the child is interested in eating, then even digestion is better.
If a child has not eaten the required amount of food at one meal (puree, cereal), you can offer him “leftovers” at another time of day. It is essential that your baby gets the right amount of food. But it would help if you did not force him to finish eating. It is not necessary. The baby can be distracted by talking to him or playing during mealtime.
Have a successful complementary feeding and a good appetite for your baby!