As a new parent, feeding your child for the first years of their life can be overwhelming. With so many different books and opinions out there, how do you know which one to trust? The best thing that you can do it discuss your options and concerns with your pediatrician and follow their advice to make sure your child gets proper nutrition during these critical years.
Introducing Solid Foods
Whether your baby has taken an interest in everything you eat or they just don’t seem quite satisfied with their liquid diet, solid foods will soon be part of their diet. There are varying opinions as to when you should introduce solid foods, but most agree never to introduce anything before 4 months. From birth to 4 months, your baby will get all of their nutrition from breast milk or formula.
Depending on your child, your preferences, and your pediatrician’s advice, you will begin introducing solid foods between 4 and 6 months. Some decide to wait until 6 months if there is a history of food allergies in the family or if your baby has sensitivities or shows no interest in eating.
You also need to take into consideration your baby’s motor skills and development to decide if they are ready for food. Don’t offer food until your baby can hold their head up. Additionally, your baby needs to be past the extrusion reflux that makes them push foods out of their mouths.
Baby’s New Menu
In the past, it was believed that a baby should only begin eating with single grain rice cereal. Now, it has become clear that babies can start with just about any fruit, vegetable, meat, or cereal. Baby’s first meal could be pureed meat, cereal, bananas, or green beans.
Keep in mind that meat is a great source of iron, which is something that most breastfed babies lack. If your baby isn’t getting enough iron in their diet and you are breastfeeding, you may need to give them supplemental iron if your pediatrician recommends it.
Just as you had to adjust how little your baby needed in the first few weeks of their life, you have to keep in mind the size of your baby’s stomach now as they begin solid foods. Keep in mind that this is completely new for your baby and can be exhausting and overwhelming figuring out how to take food from the spoon, push it to the back of their mouth, and swallow it.
At first, your baby may only want a few spoons before they get tired. That’s ok. Your baby gets most of their nutrition from their liquid diet, so you don’t need to push them to eat a certain amount in the beginning. Watch their cues and before long they will be eating 4 ounces of food at a meal.
When your baby is older and can pick up food, they can feed themselves. This is a great way to let your baby participate in their meals and help them develop fine motor skills.