Yogurt is splattered everywhere. Mouth dripping with food, my daughter gives me a huge smile. She is now seven months old, and very ready to start solid foods. In introducing her to a new diet, there are a few things I’ve learned.
1. All of the doctors and health experts say that it is healthiest for the child (and has lots of benefits for mom too) to exclusively breastfeed until six months. When she was about five months old, I decided that I knew my baby better than the experts. It was a disaster.
The few diluted-with-milk foods (all of which were labelled as appropriate beginning at four months) made her throw up excessively, constipated, and cranky. We waited another month, and the problems disappeared. Their stomachs just aren’t developed enough for solids at six months. Lots of people will tell you to give your babies cereals before then. Don’t listen to them. For the first six months, just milk is best.
2. As your baby has only had milk for six months, milk should still be their primary food at first. Begin my mixing a little milk with real food. For example, puree some banana with milk and spoon-feed it to them. Mixing the foods with milk will make the taste and texture more familiar to them, and will help their little tummy to digest it better.
3. My daughter eats better if she feels involved with the process. Talk to your kid while feeding them. Keep an extra plastic spoon handy for them to hold. Let them hold the sippy cup once in awhile. . .even if it means you both get soaked. As soon as you think your child is ready, start introducing simple finger foods. (I began giving her pieces of fruit and rusks to feed herself at about seven months.)
4. Find out what your child likes to eat, and get them used to solid foods through that. For example, my daughter loves yoghurt. So she has some every day; sometimes I mix a little of it with other foods, like fruit and baby rice, to help introduce new things. Also, I mix breast milk with pureed foods to make a smoother transition for her taste buds and tummy. That makes two familiar things that I know she can eat to expand from.
5. For the health of your child, continue to breastfeed as well for as long as possible.
6. Also, make sure that the solids do not have high sodium or sugar levels. Never ever add salt to baby food. Baby food should never be sweetened with sugar or honey. If you want to sweeten it, add some fruit juice. Babies shouldn’t have honey until they are at least a year old.
We all want to have healthy and happy babies. So use what advice you can, follow your child’s lead, and have fun.