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02Sep 13

Introducing solid foods to babies

Babies grow and change so quickly. Your newborn won’t be a newborn for long! Just when first-time parents have mastered the basics such as breast-feeding, their baby becomes curious about what mummy and daddy are eating and begins to reach for a taste of this and that.

Introducing solid foods to babies is one of the first major transitions that parents must navigate. But how do you know when your little one is ready?

Introducing Solid Foods to Babies

Introducing Solid Foods to Babies

Reading the Signs

There are a variety of things to consider when deciding if you should wean your child on to solid foods. Babies normally begin to sample solid foods around six months old when they have at least doubled their birth weight. Be careful that you do not start too early! The digestive systems of young infants cannot handle solid food.

An important factor in determining if your baby should try solid foods is the presence or absence of something called the ‘tongue thrust reflex‘, also known as the ‘gag reflex’. This reflex, in which a baby pushes food out of the mouth with his or her tongue, helps prevent choking. When a baby’s gag reflex is strong, however, first feedings of solid food can be challenging. If spoonful after spoonful of food ends up dribbled on your baby’s chin, try again in a week or two.

A baby who is ready to be weaned should be able to sit in a highchair and hold their head up well. A child should also show interest in eating food, such as opening his or her mouth when food comes near or making chewing motions.

Introducing Solid Foods

Pureed or mashed fruits and vegetables are good solid food options to begin with. Don’t be discouraged if your child makes a face after his or her first taste of vegetables. Babies are predisposed to sweet tastes such as breast milk and may need time to adjust to the flavour of other foods. Persevere and offer a variety of appropriate foods because healthy eating habits for children start early and are important for their development.

Other common firsts include soft foods such as rice cereals and oatmeal. Do not stop nursing your baby immediately! Solid foods take practice, and your baby will need the nutrition from breast milk for a while longer. After your baby gets the hang of eating, parents can move on to other soft foods such as pasta, yoghurt, and chicken. Make sure to keep an eye out for any adverse or allergic reactions triggered by certain foods, and never push more food into a child’s mouth than he or she can comfortably manage.

 

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