When To Feed Your Baby Solid Food

How and when to begin feeding your baby solid foods. Some basic tips on what you should start with and how to be careful to avoid food allergies.

One of the biggest things that a parent worries about when having a child is how to feed them. How do I know if my child is getting enough food? Are they getting to much? Should I give my child vitamins? When should I start solid foods? What should I feed them?

Never fear, before long everyone will be answering these questions for you. At will, you will be getting answers from grandparents, doctors, nurses, neighbors, and even strangers at the grocery store. Unfortunately, much of the advice will be conflicting and will only add to your feelings of confusion.

What I hope to do here is to give you some basic guidelines to feeding your child. My goal is to help ease your anxiety and not to increase it.

The first thing you need to do is to get to know your baby. Remember that no two children are ever alike.

Second you need to learn to relax. What you are feeling is natural. Everyone feels nervous at times. I am a mother of seven and felt anxious at times with every one of them. It is perfectly normal to wonder if you are doing everything right.

The third most important thing to remember is to trust your judgment. If your child is growing and developing, they are probably getting enough to eat. With practice and prompting by your child, you will learn to adjust the diet and everyone will be happy.

Fourth thing that you need to remember is to keep feeding in perspective. It provides the nourishment that your child will need to grow. It should not be used in place of love, nor should it ever be used as a reward for good behavior or a a bribe for doing something. We must make sure that we do not teach our children how to use food as a manipulative tool.

With all that said, lets talk about how and when we begin to introduce foods to our children.

There is no age that a child must begin eating solid foods. Most often you will find that they will be ready at age 4 or 5 months. It is important not to start too early because their little digestive systems may not be ready to start solid foods yet. It has also been proven that starting solid foods at too early of an age can increase the risk of food allergies.



There will be several signs that will tell you that your baby is ready to move on to solid foods. The baby will to chew at the nipple. He/she will begin to swallow food instead of spitting it out. This is because your babies muscle tone and coordination has improved. Drooling has also increased in you child so they will start to swallow more.

You must choose your child's first foods very carefully. It must be food that will be easy to digest. Remember that there little systems are still developing. You should also try to avoid foods that could cause an allergic reaction. Many doctors suggest that you start with rice cereal.

When you first begin to feed your baby you must start out slow. Start by placing a small amount on a spoon. Gently touch the spoon to the baby's lips to help encourage them to open their mouth. When their mouth is open, you should then try to place the cereal on the back of the tongue.

Even if you baby is ready for solid foods, do not expect that these first feedings will go well. The best baby will still do a lot of spitting and protesting.

When beginning solid foods you should make sure that your baby is hungry, but do not wait until they are starving. The experts say that you should always begin by nursing or bottle-feeding your baby for a couple of minute first. Then you should offer the baby a small amount of cereal. Start with only a teaspoon or two and then finish up again with the milk. After you have done this a few times, you can start with the cereal. Gradually you can begin to increase the amount of cereal and decrease the amount of nursing or bottle-feeding.

Go slow--would be my best advice. Introduce only one or two new foods a week. That way it will be easier to keep tract of a potential allergy. If you are using home cooked foods, you need to make sure that you puree them thoroughly. In addition to rice cereal, you may want to try an oatmeal or a barley.

Some other good starter foods would be:

Strained peas

Carrots

Sweet Potatoes

Squash

Apple sauce

Strained peaches

Mashed bananas

(other foods of this nature)

It is always a good idea to start your baby with the vegetables before you begin the fruit. If you do not, you baby may decide that they like the sweeter tasting foods and then not eat the vegetables and the meats. (Just a word of advice from someone who knows.)

If your baby does refuse a certain food, do not force it on them. Just give them something else and try it again in a few weeks.

At about five months old you can start fruit juices. It is a good idea to hold off on the orange juice and the other citrus juices until about six months. These are more likely to create an allergic reaction. It is a good idea to hold off on any foods that could be a potential for an allergy until the baby is about nine months old. Some of these foods would be:

Corn

Wheat products

Fish

Spinach

Berries

When your child has reached seven or eight months they have developed enough eye-hand coordination to pick up and eat finger foods. Teeth are also now beginning to come in. You can now use teething biscuits or crackers to help prevent soreness and also to help them practice self feeding. Some other good starter finger foods are:

Pretzels (no salt)

Dry cereal

Apple slices

Cooked carrots

Bananas

Ground beef

Chicken

Peas

Remember that the food should be large enough for your child to hold on to and small enough so that they will not choke.

As soon as your child is able to sit in a high chair, it is a good idea to encourage them to eat with the family. You can give them a spoon, but do not expect that they will use it right away. (Although most of mine did quite well.) Most likely they will use their hands.

Do not worry about spill and neatness now. What you are trying to work on is integrating this child into family meal time. The other things will come, especially if others at the table are setting a good example.

Good luck with feeding your child and remember---RELAX! If you do, they will.

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