Previously, it was thought that babies can consume solid foods right from when they were born. Simple cereal foods were mixed with the formula and fed using the feeding bottles. However these days, mothers are asked to wait until the baby develops good physical strength and achieves a normal mental development before starting on external solid foods. It is believed that only then, the intestine of the baby would be capable of digesting food.
Generally, babies can start consuming solid food when they are anywhere between 4 – 6 months old. This is when the growth of the intestinal lining is complete and hence, the body can selectively let through or reject foods according to how it suits. The babies also learn how to swallow the solid food properly. Before this time period, they have a natural reflex which prevents choking.
Various websites are available on baby care which presents food charts according to the baby’s age. The first step to consider giving solid foods is when the babies can sit up with or without the elder’s support. Though the food consumed and preferred may vary from one baby to another, you need to start looking for some general cues which indicates that your little one is ready to start off on some simple solid foods.
Some of the indicators are listed below:
• Your baby gains the basic strength and control of the body to sit up with good control of head and neck
• Starts chewing on external objects like toys
• Remains hungry even after drinking 32 to 40 ounces of formula on a daily basis
• Remains hungry after breast feeding 8 to 10 times in a day
• Your baby gulps in food when fed with spoon without spilling or spitting
• Closes the mouth and turns heads away when he or she feels full
• Reached double weight after birth
• Becomes more active and sleeps lesser
• Look at the food you eat, and mimics you while you eat
• Signals you to give the food you are consuming
• Does not sleep continuously for 8 hours even after full feed
In order to switch to a new regimen, it is better to start with cereals that are powdered like oat, rice or wheat. Getting used to a new food may take as long as a week. Do not try and feed the child too many new foods at a time. This is because any adverse reactions to new foods should be closely monitored, especially the first few times you feed, and this is possible only when you introduce them gradually. In addition, the body takes time to adapt to the new intake. Any allergic reactions like diarrhea, rashes and symptoms of allergic reactions to the food items should be informed to the paediatrician immediately.
Unless your baby is able to chew food properly, diced vegetables like carrots and even fruits need to be avoided. Some babies do not chew properly until they reach 6 or 7 months. In case you are planning on including certain foods, it is better to take the advice of your pediatrician.