Babies have many milestones and feeding your baby food for the first time and seeing their reaction is one of joyous significance. When your baby has turned around 4 months of age he has now reached a stage where different types of food can be introduced into his diet. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests a slow gradual introduction to solid foods during the first year.
How will you Know When the Time is Right?
Understanding and recognizing the signs that your little one is ready can sometimes be tricky. Paying attention to their eating pattern and how often is important. Here are a few other key signs to watch for as they develop to gauge whether they are ready to start on solid foods.
~ Does he seem to be eating more formula at one time or eating more often than his normal times? This is a definite sign he is ready to be introduced to solids.
~ Your baby should be able to support his head on his own, and should be able to sit up with the support of a few pillows.
~ When you are eating does your baby want to reach out to get food from your plate? His curiosity is a sign to try him on it.
~ When your baby's tongue thrust reflex diminishes which helps prevent him from chocking on foods, but also will cause them to push food from their mouth.
Getting Started Off on the Right Foot
When you first start feeding your baby food be sure to take your time. This is a slow process that takes time to help ensure his belly is able to digest the food without issues but also to help ensure he does not have allergies to any specific foods as they are introduced. Remember this is a brand new experience for him.
After you have breast-fed or given him his normal amount of formula try a few spoonfuls of an iron fortified cereal that is mixed with a little breast milk or formula. Try this at their normal feeding times, when they are moderately hungry, maybe at their mid-morning feeding. This allows them to be more alert and time for you to watch for any reactions that may develop. At first the food may end up everywhere but in his tummy and this is normal. Do not get discouraged, but keep offering it at the same time every day.
Once your baby understands and is eating the baby cereal well you can introduce a fruit or a vegetable such as applesauce or bananas. Many parents recommend offering a vegetable first due to the sweetness in the fruits. Sometimes offering a fruit first when feeding your baby food can cause him to not want the bland flavors vegetables have.
Always start off in small amounts with only one new food at a time. Do not add any new foods for a minimum of 3-4 days. This allows you to monitor if he will have any adverse effects to the new food. If he does have an allergic reaction and you have introduced multiple foods you will not know which one is causing the problem.
Cautions to Understand during the Process
Since babies have a higher risk of developing allergies, particularly if family members have any allergy related issues, there are many signs to watch for and understand.
~ If your baby has an increase in stomach gas, tummy starts to bloat, develops diarrhea, becomes fussy after eating solid foods or if you see a rash starting to develop stop feeding him that solid. Consult your pediatrician immediately to notify them of your findings.
~ Keep him off of juice until he is around 6 months old. This is also a good time to introduce him to drinking from a sippy cup. Don’t be discouraged if he is not able to use it right away, remember that he is now just learning. To avoid messy spills it is good to start with a tiny bit of filtered water which is healthy and easy to clean up without the stains.
~ Avoid feeding honey to your baby until they are around a year old. It contains spores that can cause botulism. Infant botulism is a serious condition caused by spores that can grow and multiply in the gastrointestinal area that creates dangerous toxin within the intestines.
~ Do not introduce your infant to cow’s milk until at least a year of age.
~ In today’s world and for convenience many parents opt into buying commercially prepared foods. For the parent they are easy to use and can provide good nutritional value to their baby’s. You want to avoid foods high in sugar or fillers. While this may be the easiest way to feed solids, some parents will want to prepare their own using a food processor.
Helpful Hints When Feeding your Baby Food
~ Put the food into a bowl to feed them from rather than feeding them from the jar. This will help keep the food in the jar from becoming contaminated with bacteria.
~ When cooking the food it is better to steam it instead of boiling it which depletes some of the vitamins and minerals.
~ Texture, consistency and taste are all important when you start feeding your baby food. Just like adults we prefer sweets over bitter or tangy until we develop the taste for them. While we might not like certain vegetables like beets or peas let your baby try them so they can develop healthy eating habits.
~ Start out with one single pureed food like applesauce and not a combination of fruits. Once you have been successful at introducing single foods, around 9 months of age you can start mixing two or more together.
It is important to remember that your goal is to get your infant introduced to solid foods and that it may take some time for them to develop a taste for certain foods. The food will end up on them, on you and everything that is close by. Enjoy this fun stage and do not fret over the mess. This is a milestone that will not last long and one that should bring joy and entertainment to you and your little one when feeding your baby food.
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