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Getting Baby off on a Solid (Food) Start

 

Congratulations, you have just reached an exciting milestone in baby’s life --- feeding your baby his first solid food! Exciting step in your baby’s eating development, ‘di ba? But we have so many questions --- What foods are recommended as the first solid food? How to know when your baby is ready? How to just get started? 

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Here are guidelines to help you as he moves towards solid foods.

Big nutrition for small tummies

After 6 months of age, babies need additional foods to support their growth and development. As their stomachs are still small, those foods need to contain a lot of nutrition.  Iron is one important nutrient babies need at this stage. Give your baby food that is rich in iron. Meat, a great source of iron, is top of the list as one of your child's first foods.

Fortified infant cereals also provide big nutrition for small tummies. They are designed to provide essential nutrients in a small serving, perfect for a small tummy that can’t hold much food at one time. Infant cereals are easy to digest and some are fortified with iron, making them a good option for first solid food. Start with a thinner, more watery consistency, and move to a thicker, less watery texture as your baby gets used to eating from a spoon. This lets you keep pace with his developing eating skills. Giving of new textures and flavors at the right time is important to establish his lifelong healthy eating habits.

How do I know he’s ready?

Infants have yet to develop the skills needed to move solid foods around in their mouth and successfully swallow. By 6 months of age, however, your baby has developed his motor skills so he can sit during feeding, eat from a spoon, and turn his head away if he’s full.

Look for these milestones:

  • Sits with no help because he has control over his upper body
  • Turns his head to the left or right
  • Moves his tongue backward and forward in a smooth rhythm when you put a small spoon to his lips. This allows him to take the food in and swallow it. It may take a few days to get used to eating from a spoon, but he will learn quickly!

GOOD TO KNOW

For tips on, how to start your child on solid foods, it is always smart to ask your pediatrician on your baby’s 6-month visit.

A baby needs to focus when eating. So, start a mealtime routine where you wash her hands, soothe her and sit her down to eat. Maintain the calm by lessening distractions such as the TV or any loud music. This will help your baby become conscious of eating and learn to recognize when she’s full.

Spooning up good nutrition

Your baby is growing so fast and he has specific nutritional requirements. Fortified infant cereals provide a blend of B vitamins, Zinc, Calcium, Iron and Vitamin E --- to help in their fast growth. The nutrition of iron-rich cereal can be an important part of baby’s diet until the age of two.

Setting the stage for his first taste of solids

Here are a few tips to get your baby ready for that first spoonful of solid food:

  • Take your time - Choose a time of day when you are not rushing. At the beginning, experiment to find what works best.
  • Choose the right spoon. Use a small baby-sized spoon that’s coated to protect your baby’s tender gums
  • Sit him in an upright infant seat or high chair. Make sure head is in an upright position, not tilted back.
  • Let him explore. Place a dab of puree or cereal on his high chair tray so he can "finger paint" with it and become familiar with its texture. Let him explore the feel and smell of the food. A bit messy but fun! Keep your sense of humor and have a camera handy for pictures.
  • First Bite! Sit facing your baby. Hold the spoon that is half-filled with food about 12 inches from his face. Get his attention and put the spoon up to his mouth. At start, try putting food on his lips. If he is okay with that first taste, put the next spoonful into his mouth when he opens it. Feed your baby as slowly or as fast as he wants and always look out for his fullness cues. Sanayan lang yan!
  • Try, try again. Don’t be surprised if your baby’s first taste pops right back out. It’s a natural reflex. If baby seems unhappy about this experience, give up and try again later.

GOOD TO KNOW

This a good time for you to introduce new flavors and textures and a perfect time for baby to explore.

Tips for introducing iron-fortified infant cereals

  • Start with infant rice or infant cereal. Wait several days, and if there are no reactions, try a different flavor of infant cereal. Offering single-grain cereals at first lets you pinpoint any possible food allergy—tulad ng rash, diarrhea or vomiting—that your baby may have to the new food.
  • Prepared cereal should never be fed from a bottle—only from a spoon—unless directed by your pediatrician.
  • When first starting with cereal, a smooth and malabnaw consistency is recommended. Move to a thicker consistency once your baby has become familiar with thin texture.
  • Prepare only as much as what you think he will eat. Don’t save cereal that’s been prepared, as it can grow bacteria very easily.

TOP TIP!

Wait for three days before introducing another food. This allows you to watch for any signs of any intolerance or allergy, like rash, diarrhea, runny nose or vomiting. If you suspect a reaction, stop giving that new food to baby and consult with your pediatrician.

Foods to wait on

Giving your baby adult foods, may seem like a treat for your little one, but nutritionally babies need highly nutritious foods that have important nutrients and the right amount of calories that suitable for their age.

Consult your doctor

Talk to your pediatrician about which milk option is right for your child once he reaches his 1st birthday.

Hold off on the honey

Honey can contain botulinum spores and may cause certain health problems. Even in small amounts, honey can be dangerous for a baby younger than 12 months.

Prevent choking

Start out your baby with thinly pureed foods or malabnaw na pagkain… work up to thicker textures… then move to tender pieces of food. You might think he’s ready to handle more, but do not give him these foods that may be choking hazards until at least age four or older:

• Raisins and whole grapes

• Popcorn, nuts and seeds

• Hot dogs, chunks of meat or poultry

• Spoonfuls of peanut butter

• Hard, raw or chunky fruits and vegetables such as whole peas, raw carrots, bell peppers, apples, unripe peaches, pears or plums

• Chewing gum and chewy or hard candy

 

Co-written with Kate Perales, RND.

References:

American Academy of Pediatrics. Bright Futures Nutrition, 3rd ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011.

 

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