The best first food to start for a baby, born anywhere in the world, no matter what race or color or origin, it is the mother’s milk. Especially the colostrum, which contains the antibodies to protect the baby against the disease. Can there be any food as nutrient and as healthy to a kid as the mother’s milk.
“Breastfeed is a gift from a mother to the baby that lasts a lifetime”
AGE-OLD PRACTICE AND HARMS
During our grandmother’s time, in addition to the mother’s milk, there were many other foods introduced to the baby at an early stage. In fact, in some places of India, there’s a tradition to give a drop of sugar water to the baby as soon as the baby is born. And when the mother’s body couldn’t produce enough milk, they had the practice of feeding goat’s milk and donkey’s milk to the baby.
But it is not recommended to give any food until the baby is six months old. The reason behind is, the organs in the body are very tender to start digesting any food. Whatever nutrients are needed for the growth, the baby gets ALL of it from the mother’s milk.
SO WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO INTRODUCE SOLIDS TO YOUR BABIES
According to WHO (World Health Organization), AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and every other Pediatric committee, the perfect time to introduce start solids for babies is from 6 months.
In some places, its common practice to start food very early, in between 4-6 months to avoid food allergies. The myth here is earlier the food is introduced, less possibility for food allergies.
Though the health boards, doctors, family traditions can tell their own theories, there’s one person who knows the right time, who tracks the baby’s milestones, and knows what’s right for her little star. Yes! You guessed it right. It’s the baby’s parent. The mother’s intuition will always be able to find out the right time. Every child is different so, the growth and signs of a baby should be a deciding factor as well.
BABY’S FIRST SOLID FOODS: WHEN TO START
It is recommended to start in the 6th month of the baby. These signs/milestones would help you to better know about the readiness of your infant for solids.
- The baby is able to sit upright with support or the baby is able to lift his/her head on own.
- Baby understands mealtime, looks for the food on your plate and shows some interest, and eager to grab or play with the food. This is the best indicator to know the baby’s readiness.
- When the baby has doubled his/her birth weight
- The tongue-thrust reflex is lost, which means the baby doesn’t push out the food with his/her tongue instead tries to chew and swallow food.
Following these signs might be useful to decide the right time to start solids for your baby.
BABY’S FIRST FOODS: WHAT TO START
Starting with the cereals porridge, boiled and mashed / puréed vegetables, steamed and mashed toor dal and most importantly the ABCs (Apple, Beets and Carrots) form the best first foods. This can be followed by juices and mashed up rice.
Before you start feeding,
- make sure you know the signs of choking
- check if anyone has an allergy to any foods in the family
- Do not offer cow’s milk or honey before a child turns one
- Avoid giving processed foods
- Make sure the food doesn’t contain more sugar or excess salt.
Watching your child taste new food and the funny faces they make for every new taste, don’t forget to capture those moments.
BABY’S FIRST FOODS: HOW TO START
WHO recommends breastfeeding your baby till 2 years along with supplementary nutritious solids. When you realize that your infant is ready for solids, you can start with simple solids. We must understand that until 1 year, solids are to let the baby explore the food and taste, learn to chew and bite and breast milk would still be their significant source of nutrients.
When you start,
- Make the baby sit with support, users can invest in a good wooden high chair so the baby can be fed easily and the baby may get to play and explore food.
- Never make lie them down on your lap and feed, it might cause choking.
- Feed solid to the infant after breastfeeding them.
- Initially for a few weeks, have only one solid session per day.
- Try only one new food at a time. Check for loosies or vomit and keep an eye on pee and poop count to check for food allergies. When you find the baby comfortable, add the food to the list of suitable solids to your infant.
- Start every new solid preferably after the morning breastfeeding session so if the baby is found to be allergic to any food you can reach out to the doctor immediately.
- After a few weeks, based on your child you can have two solid sessions with baby’s suitable solids in the evening and new foods in the morning as usual.
- After 1 year you can add one solid session by night before the night feed so they would sleep well.
The tummy capacity of your child at 6-12 months would be only 200-250 ml which is the size of a grapefruit so don’t worry about the quantity and never force-feed them. It will cause them an aversion to food forever.
SOME FIRST FOODS IDEAS:
- Steamed and Mashed Apple, Beets, and Carrots
- Rice porridge or any cereal porridge
- Sprouted Ragi Porridge
- Steamed and mashed potatoes and sweet potato
- Steamed and mashed Toor dal with one garlic pod
- Vegetable Soups
It is important to keep a watch on the food given and how much the baby’s body accepts, reacts, and digests them. To rule out the digestion problems easily, try one new food a day. If the baby doesn’t face any digestion problems then most of the foods can be introduced to the baby at a planned interval. If any digestion problems occur, there’s nothing to panic, note down the foods and try giving them a couple of months later. Unless the baby throws up several times or loose stools are noticed many times a day, which means we need to check with the doctor.
Some pointers you should keep in mind when starting solids,
- Initially, it’s a common thing for the baby to cough and spit-up. Unless the baby doesn’t show any signs of distress or choking, the baby is fine.
- Make the mealtime a proper routine and engage the baby slowly into the family mealtime
- Once the baby starts to enjoy the good food, start to introduce the finger foods and egg.
- Even after starting the solids, the breastmilk should not be weaned until the baby is a year old. And weaning is completely a natural process.
- Breastmilk can be continued until the mother and child enjoy this time and weaning is recommended as the child loses interest or when the mother decides to do so.
- Slowly introduce the foods your family eats including meat and seafood after 9 months and make the mealtime a happy one.
Most importantly, if you decide to introduce solid foods to your baby, make sure the mealtime is fun and healthy. And the child grows to a confident and happy eater.