Everything You Need To Know About Solid Foods For Newborns
- Breast milk is a rich source of nutrients for the newborn.
- Complement feeding or weaning is a very important part of child growth.
- Your infant gives you signals if he or she is hungry. Do not force them to eat.
- Eating is a lifelong task, so keep encouraging them and feeding them with some fun activities at the start for positive memories with food.
- Give them a small portion of liquid or semi-solid soft food.
- Breastfeeding, vegetables, fruits, protein, cereal, and pulses are part of solid food.
- Peanuts, eggs, cow's milk, soya, and fish are foods that can cause allergic reactions in infants.
When do babies start eating solid foods? We reckon, that the six-month mark is the right time. When your baby is around six months old, you should begin introducing solid meals to him or her, often known as complementary feeding or weaning.
While breast milk provides all of the required nutrients up to a certain point in time, at about six months of age, solid foods for newborns becomes a necessity. Typically, these foods are mashed, watery, and in soft form.
Breast milk is a very important first food item for the newborn. The World Health Organization says that at the age of four to six months, babies are ready to eat newborn solid food. Introducing these foods before four months is not recommended. Research says a shorter duration of early introduction of food and breastfeeding can cause weight gain and obesity.
Newborns have increased nutritional requirements, especially for energy protein, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, iron, zinc, calcium, and selenium. By this time, you should have an infant solid feeding schedule so that your child doesn’t miss out on any of the necessary nutrition. We hope this article answers the all-important question of when do baby start eating food.
Signs your baby is ready to take solid foods
Every baby is different, so how do you know that the baby is ready for solid food? Some of the signs are:
- If your baby starts sitting in a position where he or she can hold their head steady
- Chewing their thumb, fingers, fists.
- If they look at the food and try to pick it up
- If they open your mouth when food is offered.
- If they try to pick small objects or food items.
- If your child put hands to their mouth.
- Turn his or her head towards the breast.
- If the baby opens his mouth when offered food.
- Sometimes babies get excited when they see food.
How to start with solid food
- In the beginning, you can give very small amounts of food before the usual milk feed. Babies do not need three meals as they have very small tummies.
- First, let your child have one single food item at a time. That way, you can know if any food item causes an allergy in your infant. What suits and what does not suit your baby can be found out.
- The most important thing is getting your baby used to new tastes, and learning how to swallow solid foods.
- Eating is now a skill for babies, so keep encouraging them and feeding them with some fun activities.
- Keep offering a new variety of foods, flavors, and textures. Some days they eat less, some days they eat more than others. Do not worry, this is normal.
- Give your infant a chance to enjoy holding food. Never restrict them from touching food. Encourage them to feed themselves, as they show an interest in eating with their fingers.
- Avoid sitting and eating in front of the TV, tablet, and phone.
What precautions should be taken when feeding solid food to infants
- Do not use undercooked food; only properly cooked and fresh food should be given to the baby.
- Avoid overfeeding.
- Use a small spoon or feeding bottle to avoid any damage to their new teeth.
- Keep watch on your child, if he or she starts eating unnecessary and harmful items.
- Give them small portions of food in liquid or semi-soft form.
- Keep them away from small things like buttons, marbles, pins, or anything harmful, so that they do not put those things in their month.
- Your baby should sit safely and straight, in an upright position so they can swallow easily.
Preparation of solid food
- Mothers should cook food in such a way that it helps infants go through the eating process.
- During feeding, talk to your baby and distract them if they are crying.
- If your baby is sitting steady without falling, then use a highchair with a broad base and safety straps.
- Give your baby some spoons to play with their food. They enjoy feeding themselves.
- After seven to eight months, give your baby breast milk or formula in a cup. Stop using bottles so that your baby can drink them from a cup.
- You should know when to stop feeding your baby. If your baby is full and does not take another bite, do not force him or her. Your first priority should be your baby's health. Do not force them to eat too much before bedtime. It will lead to sleepless nights and make them irritable.
Healthy eating habits
Serve your youngster a variety of fruits, veggies, whole grains, meats, yogurt, and cheeses. On your child's plate, arrange a rainbow of different colored snacks.
Listed below are a few other examples of healthy eating habits for toddlers:
- Breastfeeding: While giving babies solid food for newborns, continue with breastfeeding for up to 32 ounces a day.
- Fruits: Introduce them to a single fruit at a time with no sugar. Wait for a few days to notice if they develop an allergic reaction. Apples and bananas are good for infants.
- Vegetables: Include some vegetables with no sugar and salt. Sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and peas are examples of some veggies.
- Cereals: Single grain cereal with breast milk or formula. Grains such as oatmeal, barley, ragi, etc.
- Mashed food: Give softly cooked and mashed potatoes, broccoli, yams, and carrots.
- Starchy food: Whole grain bread, cooked pasta, chapati, rice, dal.
- Protein: Soft small pieces of beef, chicken, fish, eggs, tofu.
- Dairy: Cheese, yogurt, soy yogurt.
- Water: Around 4 to 7 ounces of boiled water per day.
Introducing new tastes and textures
- Taste: Let your baby choose their favorite taste. Give them a variety of foods with different tastes and textures. This can help them to develop motor skills, help to build chewing skills, and help to find their favorite taste.
- Texture: Let them try textures like smooth, lumpy, finely chopped, mashed food. Initially, they started eating mashed and smooth food, but replace it with finely chopped food as they get older. Encourage them to pinch and pick up food from the plate.
Encourage your infant to eat with his or her fingers. This allows them to show you how much they want to eat while also allowing them to become accustomed to new foods and sensations. It also helps them improve their hand-eye coordination.
As a general rule, the greatest finger foods are those that can be sliced into pieces large enough to fit in your baby's fist and stick out the top. It's best to use pieces that are roughly the size of your own fingers.
Finger foods example:
- Cooked vegetables like sweet potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower.
- Toast, pitta, and other soft bread.
- Fresh fruit slice
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Strips of meat without bones.
- Omelet fingers
Let your infant guide you
- Be patient with babies. Most babies can tell when they're full, so listen to them and don't force them to eat.
- Pay attention to your baby's signals and learn to tell when they're hungry and when they've had enough.
- Do not rush the feeding process, go at your infant's pace. Your baby shows you signs when they are full, such as not opening their mouth or turning their heads away when you are trying to feed them.
- Do not force them to eat. Snacks are not required for babies under the age of 12 months. Offer extra milk feeds instead if you suspect your baby is hungry in between meals. Go at an infant's pace!
Guide your infant on how to eat
Because babies imitate their parents and other children, you can help them by modeling healthy eating habits. Babies appreciate seeing you eat and benefit from being included in family meals.
Talk to them and feed them when you or the rest of the family are eating to encourage them to join in.
Try to sit together for at least one meal. Mealtimes should be at the same time every day to help your infant understand when it's time to eat.
Drinks for your baby
- Breast Milk: For the first six months of a baby's existence, this is the only meal or drink they require. It should be provided alongside a more diversified diet after solid meals are introduced at the age of six months. Breastfeeding within the first 12 months of a child's life is linked to a lower incidence of tooth decay.
- Goat milk: Goat milk can be used as a substitute for cow's milk. It has a similar protein content as cow's milk. Goat milk is suitable for babies who are allergic to cow's milk.
- Water: Water is not required for fully breastfed babies until they begin eating newborn solid foods. In hot temperatures, formula-fed newborns may require additional water.
Water from the kitchen tap should not be used for newborns under the age of six months since it is not sterile. You must first boil the tap water before allowing it to cool.
It is not necessary to boil water for babies over the age of six months. Bottled water should not be used to make infant formula feeds because it may contain too much sodium or sulfate.
How to cope with a fussy eater
- Copying you is the best method for your youngster to learn to eat and love new things. As much as possible, try to eat with them.
- Give your child tiny servings and praise them for eating, even if they only eat a small amount.
- If your youngster refuses to consume the food, don't force them. Simply remove the food from the table without saying anything. Even if it's extremely annoying, try to remain cool.
- Do not put off eating till your youngster is ravenous.
- Do not wait until your child is too hungry or weary to eat before giving him or her a meal.
- Be patient if your child is a slow eater.
- Do not overfeed your youngster with snacks in between meals—two nutritious snacks per day should be plenty.
- Food should not be used as a reward. Your child may begin to associate sweets with pleasure and veggies with discomfort. Instead, take them to the park or offer to play a game with them as a reward.
- Make mealtimes more than just a time to eat. Sit down and talk about anything else.
- Inviting other children of the same age who are good eaters is a good idea. However, refrain from extolling the virtues of one another.
Risk factors for food allergy
Introducing new things causes some discomfort. When you introduce a new food to a baby, it may trigger allergic reactions. Sometimes it cannot be spotted.
If your infant already has any allergies, you must be more careful when feeding food.
Foods that can trigger allergic reactions in babies:
- Cow milk product
- Gluten-containing food
Such foods can be introduced with care. Only if toddlers show tolerance towards them should these food items become a part of their usual diet.
But if your infant shows an allergic reaction to any food item, read labels carefully and avoid those items.
What happens to your child if they have an allergic reaction
This reaction comes into action within a few minutes after exposure to the allergen.
The reaction can cause:
- A runny or stuffy nose
- Red, itchy, watery eyes
- Constant coughing
- Itchy red rashes
This reaction needs urgent treatment.
How often and how much to feed
- From 6 to 12 months old is the initial growing phase of your infant. Breast milk is a major source of nutrients for the baby. No solid food is going to be part of their diet.
- Start with just one or two tablespoons of food, and give the baby some time to swallow.
- Give your baby something to drink and eat every two to three hours and five to six times a day.
- As your baby gets older, he or she starts eating according to their interest, and that's normal. Do not force your baby to eat.
Food chart for infants
This sections deals with when and how to start solid foods for baby. Here are a few age-appropriate solid foods that will help you create an infant solid feeding schedule.
- 4 to 6 months: Cereals, Grains, & Pulses: Rice, Barley, Oats Fruits: Banana, Apple, Avocado, Pear Vegetables: Sweet Potatoes, Green Peas, Butternut Dairy: Breast milk
- 6 to 8 months: Cereals, Grains & Pulses: Black, Red pinto beans, Rice, Oats, Barley, Lentils Fruits: Apricots, mangoes, Plums, Peaches Vegetables: Acorn squash, Peas, Green beans Dairy: Yogurt of plain whole milk, Breast milk Proteins: Chicken, Tofu
- 8 to 10 months: Cereals, Grains & Pulses: Pasta, Buckwheat, Flax Fruits: Blueberries, Cherries, Figs, Kiwi, Cranberries Vegetables: Mushrooms, Onions, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Fennel Dairy: Cottage cheese Proteins: Beef, Chicken, Egg Yolks
- 10 to 12 months: Cereals, grains, and pulses: Everything comes in this category Fruits: Some citrus fruits Vegetables: Corn, Spinach, Tomatoes, Cucumbers Dairy: Whole milk, Soft cheese Proteins: Whole egg
Always enjoy your baby's gooey hands and sticky face. Through these initial practices, you are building the foundation of healthy eating.
When do babies start eating solid foods is a question all mothers have. The correct answer here is when the child is six months old. Till then, the baby survives only on breast milk, which is a rich source of nutrients for the newborn.
The newborn solid food diet includes Breastfeeding, vegetables, fruits, protein, cereal, and pulses. As a new mother, you need a semi-flexible infant solid feeding schedule for your child to get the best possible nutrition.
Solid food for newborns is a very important part of their growth. But do not worry much and enjoy all the experiences of your child's growth. We hope this article has given you the answer to when do babies start eating food.
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- Barachetti R, Villa E, Barbarini M. Weaning and complementary feeding in preterm infants: Management, timing and health outcome. La Pediatria Medica e Chirurgica. 2017 Dec 22;39(4).
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