Is your infant ready for solid food?
Every baby requires enough nutrients in order to be healthy, strong and smart. From theage of 6 months, the baby starts to grow very quickly. This indicates that, your baby will need more energy and more nutritious foods compared to the previous months.
Even though breastfeeding remains the vital source of energy for the baby, it is not sufficient once the baby reaches the age of 6 months. In addition to breast milk, the baby should be introduced with solid foods in order to keep up with the needs of the growing baby.
From 6-7 months your baby is ready for solid foods. You can begin with foods like baby rice, fruit juice and vegetable purees. If you want to introduce baby-led weaning, give your baby chewier foods like, cooked strips of carrot or cooked stalks of broccoli. Additionally, you can give pureed or strained fruits to your baby. These are addressed as the stage 1 or stage 2 foods in the baby section. In order to fulfill the protein needs, pea-sized chicken pieces of can be given to babies along with boneless fish and other meats. Beans can also be added in the food plan.
However, you should not give your baby solid foods unless the doctor advises you to do so. This must be remembered that solid foods should not be started before the age of 4 months because breast milk or formula provides your baby all the nutrients that are needed for growth. Also, your baby isn’t physically developed enough to eat solid foods before that. Feeding your baby solid food too early may lead to overfeeding or being overweight.
That being said, from 8-9 months your baby will enjoy foods with lumpier textures. They might like munching on foods with more texture and drink less milk now. For this, mashed fruits and vegetables, scrambled eggs can be added into the food list. These are addressed as the stage 3 foods in the baby section. Finger foods like small cereals, teething crackers can also be considered. In the past, doctors recommended to wait to introduce eggs or allergens (which cause allergic reaction) but recent studies provided by American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines show that there is no evidence that waiting for foods will eliminate food allergies.
At 10-11 months babies might be able to drink from a cup independently. They may have a favorite food now or be pickier about their food choices. They might be able to feed themselves with a spoon. As your baby gets more teeth and can chew effectively- this will help your baby to eat larger pieces of food.
Your baby will enjoy eating finger foods more at 12 months. Additionally, the baby would have dropped breastmilk by now. The big change for baby at this age is the introduction of whole milk into the diet. It must be pointed out that whole cow’s milk and honey should be avoided for at least 1 year. The reason behind avoiding honey is that- it causes a dangerous illness known as infant botulism (if a baby consumes bacteria it produces toxin in the body for which the muscle gets weak and respiratory problems occur.
When a new food is introduced to the baby, it is suggested to wait for a few days in order to analyze whether a baby is allergic to any food. However, it is always recommended that in order to begin the solid food, parents should consult with doctors first.