What parents do not look forward to getting their baby off the bottle so they can start exploring the world of solid foods? In the beginning, it can be difficult to tell when you should start introducing different foods and textures with your little one. Luckily, there are some ques to look for that will let you know for sure if he/she is ready to start flexing those taste buds.
Even though the most common age to start on baby cereal and the food is around 4-6 months, it could happen earlier or later, depending on your baby’s body. Here are some signs that help you figure out that your child is physically ready to chow down.
- Sitting up- whether by themselves or slightly supported
- Neck and jaw control- Baby should have the ability to turn their head from side to side and be able to move their jaw as if they are chewing
- Accepts different textures- He/she should be able to swallow foods slightly thicker than liquids without the tongue-thrust reflex pushing it back out.
- Pinching food- Baby is able to pick up food using thumb and first finger in a pinching motion
- Teething- Growing their first tooth is an almost foolproof sign that baby’s digestive tract is ready to start processing solid foods.
- Increased appetite- Baby is wanting to breastfeed more frequently for longer periods of time or is consuming more ounces of formula at each feeding.
Best starting foods
Once you know your baby is ready to start branching out, the next question you may have is what you should start feeding them. Although it is not set in stone but it is easiest to begin with a rice cereal. This will help lower the risk of your infant developing food allergies that can occur with some multi-grain or oat varieties. Mix the cereal, until watery in texture, with his/her formula or breastmilk to make it easier on baby’s stomach and allow them to get used to the change in consistency.
If you would rather start them off on a more nutritious diet without the added soy, gluten, and processing, try starting with sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas, or eggs.
It is recommended to wait 3-4 days when introducing new food items to baby to make sure you are not exposing your baby to severe allergic reactions such as strange rashes, diarrhea, running nose (clear mucus) or eyes, etc. Once you have successfully introduced several different foods, you should feed them a well-rounded variety each day to make sure they are receiving adequate nutrition.
Foods to avoid in the first year:
Most fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains are perfectly safe to feed your baby in the first year, but there are some that could be potentially hazardous.
- Cow’s milk- Is very hard on an infant’s stomach and may cause digestion issues.
- Hard or extremely chewy foods- caramel, nuts, grapes, cherries and raw veggies such as carrots; may put them at risk of choking.
- Honey- Could carry bacteria that may be harmful to the children under one year.
- Lots of cheese or dairy products- Have a chance of causing constipation that may lead to problems in the digestion tract.
- Too much juice- More than 4oz of juice a day can cause severe diarrhea in some infants. The high amounts of sugar can also lead to unhealthy gums and teeth.
Following these simple steps will help make your little buddle’s transition from liquid to solid foods as smoothly as possible and ensure they are receiving a well-balanced diet. Happy eating!