This is a question that has been asked for ages by every new mother. When is the right time to start giving my baby solid food? What should I give him, how should I prepare it? What things should I avoid, what could be harmful? These are important questions and need to be asked. I hope this article will help to answer most of these questions.
Breast milk or formula is the only food your baby needs up until 4 to 6 months of age. During this time your baby will be gaining the skills needed to be able to eat solids. These skills are important to watch for and needed for the safety of your baby. If your baby is not physically ready, there are hazards of choking.
Things to look for are: Can your baby hold his head in an upright position? Can he sit up without any support? These are signs that he is physically ready. Some other clues are your baby waking up in the night hungry when this is not his typical pattern of sleep. Does he seem hungry in between feedings? Does he show interest in your food? These are all telltale signs that your baby is ready for solid foods. Now that your baby is ready for solid foods, don't think that you should stop the bottle or nursing. It is crucial that they continue getting their nourishment from one of these sources. Talk with your pediatrician when your baby may be ready to stop nursing or the bottle.
So many parents have taken the easy route in starting solids because it can sometimes turn into a struggle. They will give them sugary or processed foods, foods that they will take easily without any coaxing. This is a huge mistake because they are taking away their baby's chance to develop a real taste for healthy foods. They need to grow and develop healthy eating habits and this is where it begins.
Another mistake some parents make is thinking that if they only wait to give the vegetables when their baby is a little older, it may be easier for them to eat it. This is wrong. When we start them on solid foods, we are setting a pattern for life, not only what they will want to eat, but how their bodies will store and use the food. When you start them on their first solids, this should be a time of exploration for your baby. Let them explore the texture, colors, smells and tastes of different foods. There are so many creative ways to offer your baby healthy foods.
Some healthy food choices are sweet potatoes cubed, (easily cooked in the microwave), diced soft fruit such as pears, bananas, sliced up avocado, or some yummy soft cooked carrots. Try shredding an apple; dice up some cooked green beans. How about some bite size pieces of wheat toast or oat cereal. Babies also love to dip things. Have a cup of some dipping sauce such as plain yogurt, applesauce or even some smashed peas. Let your baby decide how much he will eat. Never force more than they want. Provide options from each group allowing him to choose.
Remember, avoid the power struggles; mealtime needs to be fun, a time to explore. And also remember, there will be a mess involved, so be prepared. Food will be on hands, face, clothes, tray and more than likely, the floor. Enjoy and know that you are developing healthy eating habits that will go with him a lifetime.