Introducing First Solid Foods to Your Baby…
Even though weaning your baby and getting him or her to learn how to eat his or her first foods can be a daunting milestone, this is still an exciting time for both of you. When the time is right and with your help, your baby will figure everything out.
Before you begin, you have to remember that offering solid foods to your baby is a gradual process. For some parents, this time can be quite confusing, especially if you are not familiar with the right time to start and the right foods to offer your baby. In addition, it is important to take note that your baby’s first experiences with new foods should be made positive as much as possible. There are a few simple rules as well as milestones to follow to make sure that you are doing everything right.
When to Introduce Your Baby’s First Solids
Between the ages of four and six months, most babies are considered developmentally ready to get their first taste of solid foods. There are signs that can help you identify your baby’s readiness for solid foods. These signs include your baby’s ability to support his or her neck and head up and doubled birth weight. You will also know that your baby is ready when he or she becomes interested in what you are eating and your baby may even try to grab food on your plate.
First Foods to Introduce to Your Baby
Single grain and iron fortified cereal is one of the most common first baby food. This type of food comes in the form of oatmeal or rice cereal. Baby cereals are great first foods for your baby as they are easy to digest and they can boost your baby’s iron intake. Aside from baby cereal, purged fruits and vegetables are also great first foods for your baby. The kind of fruit and vegetable does not really matter as long as you offer a variety of them. For instance, you can puree fruits like carrots, pears, prunes, banana, peaches and avocado or vegetables like squash. Since babies have preferences for sweet tastes, it is ideal to alternately give them both fruits and vegetables.
The first foods that you should give your baby must be easy to digest. Moreover, these foods should not trigger any allergic reactions. You should not add sugar or salt to your baby’s foods even though it tastes bland, as salt is not good for the kidneys and sugar can encourage a sweet tooth.
Your Baby’s First Veggies
When giving your baby his or her first veggies, you should make sure that you are giving him or her variety. Your baby’s first veggies should include the following:
- This is rich in beta-carotene, which is the plant form of Vitamin A. Carrots are considered an excellent choice when it comes to weaning as it has a naturally sweet taste. Darker colored and older carrots have more beta-carotene.
- Root Vegetables. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, parsnip, and butternut squash are considered the perfect weaning foods as they have naturally sweet taste and smooth texture especially when they are pureed. Butternut squash rarely causes allergies and this is easily digested. This is also a great source of beta-carotene. Parsnips, on the other hand, are a great source of fiber, starch, vitamins C and E. Sweet potatoes come in two varieties, the creamy-fleshed and orange-fleshed potatoes. Both types are rich in vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotene, and fiber.
- This is a great source of vitamin C, folic acid, beta-carotene, and potassium. This is best steamed to ensure that nutrients are intact when giving it to your baby. Most babies are keen on the taste of broccoli. Thus, it is ideal to mix this with a sweet-tasting vegetable.
Your Baby’s First Fruits
Fruits are also great weaning foods for your baby. There are a variety of fruits that is suitable for your baby.
- Apple, Papaya, and Bananas. Apple is easy to digest and rich in nutrients. This contains fiber that helps fight constipation. Papaya is also an ideal weaning food, as this is easy to swallow. This is rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, and fiber. Moreover, this fruit is rich in enzymes that help with acid digestion. Bananas are rich in slow release sugars. This is also good for treating constipation and diarrhea.
- Blueberries and Peaches. Blueberries are rich in beta-carotene and Vitamin C. This is also a great source of antioxidant. On the other hand, peaches are good sources if Vitamin C. This is also considered an ideal weaning food as they are easy to digest.
Rice and Meat
The first cereal that you should introduce to your baby should be baby rice, as this does not contain gluten. Gluten is typically found in oats, wheat, rye, and barley and this has the tendency to trigger allergic reactions if given before 6 months of age. Baby rice has a milky taste and can easily be digested. This helps ease transition from a pure milk-based diet to your baby’s first solids. Red meat, on the other hand, is the best source of iron for your baby. Introducing iron-rich foods is important, as the iron reserves that the baby gets from the mother runs out after 6 months. Moreover, breast milk does not contain ample amounts of iron.
Why You Should Not Start Too Soon?
Your baby’s first solids are best introduced between four to six months of age. However, in some cases, it is okay to start a little later, especially if your baby is not yet developmentally ready to take his or her first solids. However, starting sooner is also not a good idea because it may cause an unpleasant experience. Babies are born with a certain reflex that makes them push their tongue forward whenever something touches it. This means that they are not able to move food from the front of their tongue towards the back of their mouth. If you attempt to push food into their mouth while this reflex is still present, your baby may start to gag. This will not make the experience a pleasant. It is best to wait until this reflex disappears, which usually happens around four to six months.