From our ancient ages to modern science, it’s unanimously accepted that solids must not be introduced until the baby’s digestive tract is mature enough to handle it. Most babies are developmentally ready for solids somewhere between 6 to 8 months and perhaps that’s the reason behind the “Annaprashan” ritual being performed in the Indian culture around this age. Your newborn requires only breast milk or formula. For the first six months after birth, the American Academy of Pediatrics advocates exclusively breast-feeding. However, most babies are ready to start eating solid food as a supplement to breast-feeding or formula-feeding by the age of 4 to 6 months.
Now let’s understand 5 such tell-tale developmental signs that indicate your baby is ready for a taste change and for you to set bite size milestones for his further growth.
Baby develops the ability to hold his head up consistently for longer periods.
Baby is able to sit fully upright without any support.
When the baby stops automatically pushing solids out of his mouth with the help of his tongue which is termed as tongue-thrust reflex.
Baby wants to chew.
Baby shows another developmental sign of a “pincer” grasp. This means he is trying to hold an item with his index finger and thumb. With this object-grabbing skill, he picks up food or other objects between thumb and his forefinger.
Baby shows willingness to join in the meals and tries hard to grab food and put it in his mouth.
A rough estimation (although not backed up scientifically) says that babies are usually ready for solids when they are typically double the size of their birth weight. Nevertheless this estimation can’t be the sole basis and should only be considered along with other developmental signs.
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It is also evident that as soon as the baby is grown enough to become aware of the world around him, he also becomes fascinated by food. Gazing at food objects, trying to grab and feel them and open his mouth in anticipation to taste a bite are also significant developmental signs of readiness for solids.
Please also remember that even after you start solids, breast milk or formula must be the primary source of nutrition so, try to continue breastfeeding for at least a year.
An exciting and crucial milestone in your baby’s nutritional journey is starting solid foods. Along with providing new feeding options, it also opens up avenues for a baby’s healthy growth. Let’s look at some important things moms should know about starting solids:
When’s the right time? – Around 6 months is considered the right age. But, each baby is different and you should look for the following tell-tale signs of a baby’s readiness for solids foods:
- Baby can hold his head up.
- He looks interested while you are eating.
- He opens his mouth when you take food towards him.
- He can move food from his tongue to his throat to swallow.
How to start? – Since most nutrition at 6 months still comes from milk, you can start solids without worrying if the baby doesn’t take a liking to solids right away. Here are a few pointers on how to go about it:
- Feed with a small spoon.
- Start with very small portions.
- Baby takes time to develop taste for food, so keep feeding a food for a few days.
- Be prepared to clean up as the first few feeding sessions would end up with most food spread on the baby’s face, clothes, and hands.
What are the best options? – There are no scientifically proven foods that are better to start off with, but you can keep in mind the following pointers:
- Don’t feed anything that could be a choking risk.
- Cereals like rice and oatmeal are the easiest to start with.
- Fruits and vegetables like bananas, apples, potatoes, and beans are good and light options.
- Check with your pediatrician about starting meat and fish.
- The first foods must be soft and mashed or cut into very small pieces.
- Watch out for any food that’s making the baby uncomfortable, it could be an allergy.
What changes to expect? – You can expect the following changes once the baby’s started on solid foods:
- His potty will become more solid and have a stronger smell.
- Finding chunks of undigested food in the potty is normal as the baby’s digestive system is still developing and will take time to fully process food.
- If the stools are extremely loose, reduce the quantity of solids.
Some Must Have Essential products to start feeding solid foods.
So, go ahead and begin this exciting phase which is the building block of healthy eating habits for life.
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