As the child grows bigger and becomes more active, he requires more calories and nutrients. And unless you are willing to feed your baby for every couple of hours, including at night, formula or breast milk may no longer provide enough calories for your baby. To meet the baby’s growing needs, it is important to start introducing solids. Solid foods not only fulfill your infant’s dietary requirements, but also stimulate your child’s sense of taste by exposing him to different textures and flavors of foods.
Your child may give you some clues to indicate his acceptance for solid foods. Common clues are usually related to:
• Feeding frequency
• Physical readiness
• Interest (or disinterest) to a particular food
You should examine these clues to determine whether your child is ready for solid foods.
When should we begin giving your child solid foods? Except if you have a big child, you shouldn’t start to feed him solid foods before he is at least thirty weeks old. Younger babies have immature digestive tract can’t absorb let alone digest complex foods. Additionally, introducing solids too early may diminish your child’s desire to breastfeed, which may cause lower nutrition intake. Finally, feeding your child with solids too quickly may induce uncontrolled mealtime melees. Introducing solids to your child may not be easy, he may reject solids and push them away. But, if you are late and the baby becomes totally dependent on breastfeeding or formula, he may reject real foods and new tastes. (In some cases, the child may even don’t know how to chew and swallow). Determining the right time should be clear enough: You should start to introduce solids, when he is about five months.
Your baby should consume about three ounces of milk for each pound of his weight. So if your baby is 14 pounds, he must get about 40 ounces and that’s equal to between six to eight feedings a day! Understandably, you need to seriously consider adding solids to the formula or breast-feeding.
A baby with good appetite may probably drink about seven ounces of milk in a single feeding. His stomach can’t hold much more food. Even so, after your child is finishing his bottle, he may look dissatisfied and wants more; it may mean that you should break out that baby cereal box right away.
For most parents, the most obvious clue that their babies need solids comes from the frequent demand for one more feeding. If the baby appears to need more feeding than he used to, then he probably should get more than just formula or breast milk. If he suddenly wants to eat at unlikely hours like late at night, then it will give you enough motivation to begin giving him solids.
You must not feed solid foods to your child until he is entirely ready to accept something more than formula or breast milk. Your child must, for example, can hold his head steady while sitting. If his head flops over in less than one minute, you should hold off on giving him solid foods for a little longer.
Your baby may give you a strong clue that he’s not ready. Very young baby has reflex to protect him from choking, which causes his tongue to push out anything that is placed in his mouth. When your child is ready for solid foods, this reflex will already be greatly diminished.
Some babies show a bigger interest on solids sooner than other babies. If your baby is interested with your meal and shows some signs that he wants it too, you can give him a taste, except if it is prohibited. Even so, his first food should be turned it into a nearly liquid mush, mixed with some water or milk.
Giving Him First Solid Foods
When introducing your child to solid foods, you need to take it easy and do it slowly. Your child won’t sit still while you’re giving him three full meals of cereals, fruits and veggies. First foods should be considered as supplement, not as quick replacement for formula or breast milk. Milk should still be the dominant food in your baby’s diet for about two months after you give him solids.
When deciding what to give to your child, remember that formula or breast milk still supplies nearly everything your baby needs, because it contains a balanced nutrition: Sugar, fat, protein, minerals, and vitamins. If you believe that your baby’s nutritional needs are adequately met by formula or breast milk, you shouldn’t fret over giving him a balanced diet of solids. Just serve him whenever he wants it.
Experts recommend baby cereal as the first staple food, which is usually the best early food for a baby. Preparing it, is easy and simple, you can adjust the consistency by determining how much liquid you should add. Baby cereal (oats, barley, or rice) is also quickly digested and rarely cause an allergic reaction. Additionally, because most baby cereal is iron-fortified (which is not available in breast milk), it’s a particularly good start-up food for any breast-fed baby.
Don’t succumb to the urge to sweeten your child’s cereal before he is used to plain cereal (cereal mixed only with water). For us, it may seem bland or even unpalatable, but it is an overwhelming experience for your child and you should let him experience foods in its original state. Most babies enjoy plain, tasteless baby cereal. But after he starts to turn up his nose at the sight of plain cereal, try to mix it with formula or fruit juice (you must make it at home from real fruits). Don’t turn to sugar too soon.
As soon as your child has begun to understand solid foods at their original states, you may introduce more variety into his diet. With proper guidance, your child will be excited to try foods that have different textures and different flavors. Try to introduce just only a single food at a time and give him only a very small amount. Wait for three or four days before offering him another. By introducing a new food one at a time, you will instantly know a type of food that is responsible for adverse reactions. If your child does have an unintended reaction to a specific food, wait for two or three months before giving him again. By then, he may already develop better tolerance.