It is best to wait until your baby is six months to wean her on solid foods…
Your baby is now six months old and showing signs that she is ready for more than breast milk. For one, her teeth are starting to pop out of her mouth and she is showing interest in what you are eating. This is an interesting time for you and baby as she gets familiar with different tastes and textures of food and you explore different ways to make her happy. Do not be disheartened if your baby is not enthused about food other than breast milk. While some babies may readily show an appreciation for new food, some may take a while to get adjusted.
Wait until Baby is ready
There may be the temptation to start your baby on solids before the six months because there are certain signs that may indicate that. Some signs however can be mistaken for readiness. For example:
She may constantly chew her fists. All babies do this, sometimes as a sign of contentment or just out of frustration that they are not able to move and do as they want.
She wakes more often in the night. This is usually a sign that your baby is growing up and more alert than her newborn days.
She wants more milk feeds. Yes, her digestive organ is developing and may demand more liquid milk feed. This may only mean more and not a sign that she is ready for solids.
It is best to wait until your baby is six months to wean her on solid foods because breast milk protects her health. Breast milk contains all the nutrients that a baby needs to grow and develop into a healthy person. Human milk also contains a whole lot of substances that strengthen her immune system to fight diseases. Even if you think that your baby is showing readiness for solids, do not start until after the fourth month or 17 weeks – the stipulated guideline of the Department of Health. Take into consideration also that babies born to families with a history of food allergy, hay fever, eczema or asthma should not be weaned before six months when their immune system is stronger.
Know when to Start with Weaning Foods
There will be many opportunities presented to give you a hint that your baby is ready for solid foods.
- She is sitting up straight. Your baby is able to maintain an upright position without you having to support her. You may also have to start by holding her on your lap.
- She starts showing interest. While you are eating, your baby may make valiant attempts to come over and try some of the food. She may even start crying to be with you. Some mothers place bits on their babies tongue.
- She is able to chew. Your baby will make chewing motions and this will be more evident if you place a bit of food in her mouth. This will tell you that her chewing organs are ready to accept food.
- She has good coordination. Her grasp is now more coordinated as she can move food from a dish to her mouth. At this stage you will be amused as she tries to find her mouth to position the food.
- She has gained a healthy weight. Your baby has steadily gained weight and is showing the maturity at this stage that she is ready for semi-solid food.
The first rule when introducing foods to baby is that milk should continue to be a part of the baby’s nutrition. Whether you will continue to feed your baby with breast milk or formula milk, it will provide her with all the nutrients she need. Seek to give your baby at least 20 ounces of milk product every day. Goat’s milk and cow’s milk are not good choices for your young one as it does not contain enough iron and other nutrients. They can however be added to other foods when cooking, or used to mix cereals to build nutrient content.
There are lots of ready-made foods sold in baby stores and supermarkets done for your convenience. However these may not be beneficial to your child’s health especially at this age. Commercially sold foods tend to have high levels of salt and sugar. Furthermore, your baby would get way less nutrients than home-made foods. It has been found that commercial foods have just half the amount of protein and energy as that prepared at home.
Important Weaning Foods
The key is to introduce foods that are nutritious, will not cause allergies, and are easy to digest.
Vegetables – Root vegetables have dense consistency that provides a rich and full-bodied weaning food. The natural sweet flavor of carrot, butternut squash and sweet potato for example, make them popular foods to introduce to your baby. They are easily pureed and easily digested too.
Fruits – It is great if you can start your baby on fruits. Only ensure that they are ripe and flavorful. The best ones at her stage are apple, pear, banana, avocado and papaya. Some fruits can be pureed and eaten just as they are while others such as apple will need to be cooked for preparation.
Cereals and grains – These are important foods to start your baby off. Make a nice smooth porridge with these foods and feed them for breakfast. Here you can add cow’s milk to them. Formula milk or breast milk should however be maintained for your baby.
Protein-rich Meats and Fish – Experiment with a variety of proteins for your baby. Cook and puree white meats from chicken and fish. Red meats, for example will provide your baby with well needed iron. Include well-cooked eggs also. Mix these foods with vegetables such as carrot and sweet potato and see how much your baby enjoys them.
Vegetarian Foods – Let’s not forget that some families may be vegetarian. The food that your baby eats should include all the important nutrients from the foods she eats just the same. Babies love lentil purees for example. Consider also the possibilities if you mix it up with other foods such as carrot, sweet potato, onions, tomato, celery and cheese. Vitamin C added to iron-rich foods like lentils will help iron to absorb faster. So add some strawberries to her food.
As your baby grows, she will transition to new foods. As she explores her world of foods, your only role is to lead by making them interesting for her.