Dos and Don’ts in Introducing Solid Food like Cereals to your Baby
Do you know that how solid foods are initially introduced to babies greatly influence his/her lifetime eating habits? That’s why parents should value information related to solid food introduction to babies based on research and/or personal experiences of parents.
Below is a compendium of know-how on solid food introduction configured as dos and don’ts and followed by a sample age-by-age food selection.
1. RIGHT TIMING
DO know the proper timing of solid food introduction.
DON’T do it too early, unless necessary as advised by a pediatrician, but not too late as well.
Research suggests that starting it too soon, before 4 months, increases the risk for obesity while doing it after 7 months increases the risk for food allergies. Most babies usually start on solids by 4 to 6 months of age but there are other important sign of readiness to look for as well. Visit this hub for signs that the baby is ready for solid foods.
2. RIGHT PACING
DO limit introduction to one food type at a time. It is true that kids should be introduced to a variety of food tastes and texture so they can get all the nutrition they need and enjoy gastronomic diversity. But at this stage of your baby’s life, introduce one food item at a time then wait at least 3 days after each new food and observe for allergic reactions. Signs of allergy may include rash, increased gas, bloated tummy and diarrhea. If you notice one of these signs, stop giving that food and consult your physician.
DON’T be overly excited because this is not the time to be fancy. Your baby does not require gourmet dish.
Be Ready with Your Camera
Nestle Cerelac Baby Cereals
Organic Baby Cereals
DO let your baby drink water after every feeding. A fully breastfed baby doesn’t usually require water, but formula fed babies and those on solid food do.
DON’T forget that drinking water assists your baby in digestion as well as prevents constipation and dehydration. Thus, it’s important to also introduce water as your baby starts with solid foods.
4. FOOD SAFETY
DO ensure sanitary food preparation and freshness of food being given. Before you start preparing your baby’s food, make sure the working area and materials are all clean and wash your hands thoroughly. Remember that you are introducing solid food to your baby for better health and not for catching any discomforts, especially not diseases. As much as possible food should be freshly prepared but in case a food preparation needs to be stored for future feedings follow this link for some tips.
DON’T feed directly from a jar of baby food. It’s better to scoop an amount that the baby can consume in one feeding and transfer it to another container like a bowl or plate.
DON’T return unconsumed portion to the jar. Consciously following this advice prevents contamination of the remaining food in the jar.
5. FOOD CONSISTENCY
DO make sure that baby’s food is soft enough that it can be swallowed without choking and be easily digested. When giving infant cereal for the first time, add a little more water for it to have a lighter consistency, making it easier for the baby to swallow. You can puree or mash thoroughly cooked vegetables or chosen fresh fruits (e.g. mash boiled potato or fresh banana; puree boiled carrots or fresh apple). When it’s time to introduce fish and meat, finely shred them.
DON’T give foods that contain potential allergens, chokables, egg whites, honey, high nitrate vegetables, or fish with potentially high concentration of mercury or PCB. Foods that are too sour or those stored in containers with bisphenol A should not be given as well. For details on foods to avoid for your baby’s health and safety, follow this link.
Note when a particular food item is safe to be introduced to your baby and the items that are unsuitable even for older kids.
6. FEEDING STRATEGY
DON’T force-feed. The first time you offer a food item to your baby, he/she may only take in a little if not totally reject it. This is normal. Offer a little more next time but never force a baby to eat more than what he/she is willing to eat. At this point, your objective should only be to introduce various food tastes and texture and not to stuff your baby, so learn to be patient with your child.
DO make feeding time pleasurable and not traumatic so your baby will always look forward to the next. Relax and enjoy the moment with your baby.
DO offer more adventurous options at the right time.
DON’T add salt, sugar or spices to newly introduced baby food, or give sour fruits like citrus, and lots of other must nots during the first months of solid food introduction. This leaves you with limited food choices you can offer your baby with taste that is, most often than not, bland (at least in our judgment). This is alright because your baby should safely savor the real food flavor at this stage.
DO know when your baby is ready for variety. As your baby becomes comfortable with solid food and teeth start to show up, add more food items in your baby’s repertoire. Before he/she turns one, you should have introduced various tastes and textures including food preparations for young kids and adults. Watch the response to shredded fish, meat and other foods but beware of choking hazards like raisins, grapes, popcorn, nuts, etc. Know when to move from strained/mashed vegetables to small chunks, to serve small pieces of cooked pasta, or to excite your baby with orange pulp bits. Allow your baby the adventure of tasting what you eat, a little at a time, so he/she can enjoy tasty alternatives while learning to chew. They become adaptable eaters in the process.
GUIDE TO AGE APPROPRIATE FOOD
The tables below summarize how solid food was introduced to my four kids who grew up healthy and less picky. Commercially available infant cereal provides the convenience and constant availability (there are organic options too) but home prepared food is often done for a variety of other advantages. Serving both made sense to me. Observe the progression of food choices as the child grows. This can serve as guide to other parents
Note: There are three tables in the slide show that you can also click to enlarge.
Food Choice Assortment by Child AgeClick thumbnail to view full-size
More by this Author
The house fly, Musca domestica Linnaeus, is a well-known pest of houses (thus, the name) and farms. This tiny creature is very common and cosmopolitan in distribution. Chances are good that every human being in...
The arrival of a new baby is the most wondrous event in a family. This arrival is made more special by the ceremonies being held to welcome the child to the family, to society and to religious communities. Find out...
Wedding traditions vary from country to country. Even within a country, there could be variations among regions based on tribal, ethnicity, cultural and religious affiliations. As I went over...