Babies are so adorable they make you want to hold them forever. While this is true, we also want them to grow into advanced stages.
This involves their food and liquid intake as a whole. Experts agree that babies should be on solids from 6 months and never before 4 months. At this stage, your baby’s body requires much-needed iron supply and other nutrients. Breastfeeding can’t provide all the necessary nutrients.
Why are solids so important?
At 6 months old, the baby’s reserve of iron and important nutrients begin to wane. These nutrients are necessary for improved health and general growth. Again, starting solids introduces your baby’s taste buds to different meals. Babies also learn how to chew and eat at this stage. More calories are needed for faster development in babies.
• Indications your baby is ready for solid meals
You have to take note of signs and behavioral patterns of your baby. These signs will guide you on when and how to kick-start semi-solids or solids. Generally, a good head and neck coordination is a perfect indicator. Further, sitting upright with good upper body strength is a sign of development. A keen appetite and a desire to eat what adults are eating is another sign that they are ready for solids.
Sometimes babies appear unsatisfied with only breast milk. Again, they try to chew and gnaw at the food instead of inadvertently pushing it out. Babies feed for longer durations at this stage of their development. Another indicator is opening their lovely mouth at the sight of a spoon.
• Ideal semi-solids/solids for a 6-month-old baby
Food type and texture matter a lot. You don’t want to start this on the wrong foot. It’s okay to start off with something light, mashed up and easy to swallow. Babies are different and what one likes may not apply to another. Different food textures are needed. But generally, solids rich in iron and basic nutrients must be included. Foods rich in iron include poultry, fish, minced meat legumes and egg.
Don’t forget your greens. Vegetables are important. Again, grains, fruits, and dairy products are vital at this stage. Examples of such foods are apple, banana, oats, bread, carrot, cheese and yogurt. You can make combinations out of these solids for best results. Be sure to watch out for signs of hunger. Also, you can continue breastfeeding while feeding your baby solids.
• Semi-solids/solid foods to avoid at this stage
At 6 months old, your baby is at the right stage for introducing solid meals. Foods to avoid for now include nuts and the like until about 3 years old (this is a genuine health risk). Others are honey, raw eggs and the like, goat and sheep milk should be avoided until 2 years old. These semi-solids and solids are for later stages of development.
• Allergies associated with starting semi-solids and solids
Under no circumstances should solids be introduced before 4 months. Doing this only increases the risk of allergies, which could be mild to severe. Parents with history of allergies should also be mindful and may introduce one new food per time. This will help gauge the baby’s reaction to such food.
Overall, visit a qualified pediatrician or allergologist to allay your fears.