Guide to Starting Solids
The inclusion of solid foods to a baby’s daily diet is an extremely exciting transition for the child as well as the parents. Starting solids is just your child’s first step on the ladder towards a great and independent future which puts additional responsibility on parents to ensure that this initial step is taken the right way. The responsibility brings some concerns along with itself such as:
When to introduce solid foods?
Various studies suggest the six-months mark as the right age for children to make this transition with many researches that discourage this move taken before the baby is four months old. However, every child is unique so here are some visual cues you may use to gauge if your child is ready for starting solids.
- Sits up (alone or with support)
- Has control over his/her head and neck
- Swallows food and does not push it out
- Reacts to the food when offered.
- Grabs at small objects, toys, etc.
What foods should I introduce when starting solids?
You do not need to worry about maintaining the same order of foods for most children. Your child will be ready to eat a wide range of foods by the time he/she is past the 6 months mark including fruits, cereals, meat, vegetables, fish and much more. However, try to be as consistent with feeding patterns as possible.
How should I introduce solid foods to my child?
It is highly recommended to feed your child single ingredient meals which would help you to identify any potential food allergies. Add a 3-5 days break before incorporating a new food in your child’s diet. Keep an eye out for possible reactions to potentially allergenic foods such as dairy products, eggs, fish, peanuts, nuts, wheat, etc.
How to prepare my child’s meals?
Solid foods are a new addition to your child’s life which may lead to confused reactions to the texture of the solids. For this reason, it is recommended to start off with foods with smooth texture such as mashed or strained foods to allow your child to adjust. Choking is the greatest concern for a child when it comes to starting solids. But you can prevent by preparing foods which do not require chewing and can dissolve with the saliva. Ensure that the child eats under your watchful eyes at all times and encourage him/her to eat slowly.
Foods to encourage
Fruits: bananas, oranges, pears, melons, etc.
Vegetables: cooked spinach, peas, carrots, sweet potatoes.
Whole grains: whole grains bread, crackers and pastas.
Dairy: pasteurized yogurts or cheeses.
Meats: soft, small pieces of beef, lamb, chicken and fish.
Foods to discourage
Honey: Avoid anything with honey for the first 12 months as it may cause food poisoning.
Unpasteurized foods or drinks: These may include harmful bacteria which may lead to severe illness.
Foods with added sugars: Do not include anything with added sugars.
Foods with too much salt: Canned and processed foods may be discouraged as it may be high in sodium levels.