In the first 6 to 8 months of life, babies need only breast milk for growth and development. There is new research about starting solids at 4 months itself. It is very important to stick to baby solid food schedule at the right time as failure to do so could lead to anemia, malnutrition and even fussiness about eating solids. Your doctor can answer the question ‘what baby food to start with?’ Additionally, use the following tips for starting solids at 4 to 6 months.
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1. Consult your doctor
Do not start solid foods unless your doctor gives you the green signal. Starting solids when the time is not right can be harmful to the baby’s developing digestive system. Likewise, starting solid food when it is too late could cause your baby to lose out on important nutrients. Also it may become difficult for baby to adjust to new tastes and textures and could also increase the risk of developing allergies. The right time to start solids is when the baby can sit in your lap, shows interest in food, and looks for more food after breastfeeding. These cues should help answer the question: ‘when can I start giving my baby solid food?’
2. Offer a variety of foods
Talk to your pediatrician about what baby food to start with and plan regular times for feeding. If your baby does not finish all the food, do not fret. Many children have different appetites and you must not compare. It is a good idea to offer different foods to baby.
3. Keep eating times relaxed
Do not make meal times full of anxiety! Relax. It is important that you and your child are both relaxed so that s/he can eat how much ever they need and not overeat. This is an important habit for good overall health.
4. Offer smaller portions
Your child can always ask for more if they want. Take the food away when they are finished. Allow enough time for them to feel full.
5. Feed when hungry
If your child shows signs of hunger between meals, offer a small snack or breastfeed. In case of toddlers, ensure that the snack is nutritious.
6. Continue breastfeeding
Continue breastfeeding the baby for at least 6 months as they get most of the nutrients they need through mother’s milk. If you are feeding formula, talk to the doctor about changing it if your baby shows signs of not liking it.
7. Be patient
By the time your baby is one year old, s/he should be used to mashed and pureed food. Stay patient and relaxed while feeding the baby, so that s/he can adjust to the new textures and taste.
8. Appetite changes are natural
Many babies tend to show loss of appetite after 18 months of age. This is the time you can allow the child to eat with their hands. It is very natural for babies at this age to display preferences for certain foods. It is important that you offer a wide variety of nutritious foods at this point.
9. Give supplements
If lack of appetite continues to be an issue, talk to your doctor about feeding vitamin supplements to the baby. By correcting underlying deficiencies, there is a possibility that your child’s appetite will return. Many health drinks are complete meals and can make up for the loss of appetite and poor feeding habits.
10. Know that your child is watching you
Keep your own portions small. Your children watch and mimic you. If you overeat, chances are that your toddler/baby will overeat as well. Type 2 diabetes is very common in young children these days. So eat when you are hungry and not when you are bored or sad. When you take care of yourself, you can take better care of your child.
Use these 10 easy ways to start baby on solids.