As a parent, one of the most nerve-racking experiences you will have to go through is feeding your baby for the first time. Once you place a small bite of food in your child’s mouth for the first time, you have to hold your breath while waiting to see if he will swallow it or spit it out.
When Should You Give Solid Foods to Your Baby?
Trusted nutrition advisors say introducing solid foods to your baby at the right time will help both you and your baby go through the process much easier.
Starting too early can put your child at risk for infections and food allergies. On the other hand, introducing solids too late can cause you to have a harder time since your baby will be more resistant to changes in his diet and feeding habits.
The best time to start giving your infant solids is when he is six months old. You can consider feeding him earlier if he is already demonstrating the following:
- He can sit up without support and hold his head steady.
- He no longer has the tongue-thrust reflex (baby will push food out of his mouth).
- He is already working on his pincer grip and can pick up items with his hands.
- He is showing interest in your food and will even reach for it.
How to Begin Feeding Your Baby Solids
Aside from waiting for the right time to introduce solid foods to your baby, here are some other useful tips to follow during this important milestone:
Prepare foods that are smooth
The texture of your infant’s first foods should be extra smooth so that they are practically dripping off the spoon.
If you want to give your baby fruits and vegetables, make sure you boil the hard ones, such as sweet potatoes and carrots, first. Next, strain, puree or finely mash the fruit or veggie, and thin it with liquid when necessary.
In case you want to start with baby cereals, it is best to choose a single-grain, iron-fortified, whole-grain product such as brown rice or whole-grain oat. Add a small amount of breast or infant milk or water to create a creamy, soupy food.
Make sure you have the right equipment, utensils and other gears
Start by getting a blender and food processor if you don’t have baby food equipment yet. These appliances will help you prepare yummy pureed and mashed meals for your baby.
Make sure you have a safe, sturdy high chair or feeding seat for your infant to sit on as well.
Have plenty of small, soft bowls and silicon or plastic spoons, too. Lastly, have several bibs handy and don’t forget to put one on your baby before you feed him.
Breastfeed or bottle feed your baby before a meal
When introducing solids, your goal should not be to ensure your baby is full after every meal. Majority of the nutrition and calories he needs should still come from milk.
Since your baby is still learning to eat, he will take a long time to finish his meal or even just finish half of it. Your infant may even get frustrated or fussy because he is hungry and not getting filled up quickly with solid foods. You can avoid this by breastfeeding or bottle-feeding him an hour before giving him solids.
Know the best time to feed your baby
The best time to feed your baby is whatever time works for both of you. If you are breastfeeding, try feeding your baby when your milk supply is at its lowest which is usually during late afternoon or early evening.
Your child’s moods will vary throughout the day as well which is part of the normal baby development process. Keep this in mind when feeding your baby. Your little one will be more likely to open his mouth for an incoming spoon when he is happy and alert than when he is cranky and sleepy.
Take it slowly
When feeding your baby for the first time, start by gently placing about a quarter teaspoon of food on the tip of his tongue. If he swallows it, place the next quarter teaspoon a little farther back.
Your baby will likely reject some new foods several times before he realizes he actually likes them. For example, if your baby rejects squash the first time, don’t throw away this food ingredient just yet even when your baby snubs what you prepared. Try feeding him newly-prepared squash to him again some other day.
Know when to stop
Finally, knowing when to stop feeding your baby is as important as knowing when
When your child doesn’t want to eat anymore and is turning his head away from the spoon, stop feeding him. Don’t force him to eat more since he will simply spit out the food.
Feeding your baby solids for the first time can be a huge struggle, and definitely messy. But by being prepared for this milestone, you will have an easier time setting up the foundation for your child’s good eating habits in the future.