Best Way to Feed Your Baby. Introducing Solids

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Feed-Your-Baby_cCurrent medical advice is that solids should not be given until at least four months after your baby's due date. A very young baby's digestive and immune system is not sufficiently developed before this time and there is a greater risk of food allergy occurring. In special circumstances, pre-term infants may be offered solids earlier than this but check with your paediatric dietitian first.

 

While sucking is a natural reflex, babies need to be ready to learn the new skill of pushing food to the back of the mouth with their tongues and swallowing. To eat from a spoon your baby has to be able to use his tongue to push food back, rather than forward, in his mouth and to be able to use his lips to pull food off the spoon. Until now he's only been used to using his jaw and cheek muscles for sucking in his milk, so this is a completely new experience.

Never leave a baby or toddler alone with food as he may choke. If weaning is delayed until after six months, some babies can have difficulty learning to swallow and chew food.

Signs that your baby is ready for solids:

  • He is still hungry after a full milk feed.
  • He starts waking more during the night demanding to be fed.
  • He demands feeds more often.

The best first foods for your baby

The first foods that you give your baby must be easy to digest and unlikely to provoke art allergic reaction. Don't be tempted to add salt or sugar to your baby's food, however bland. Salt may harm your baby's kidneys and sugar will encourage a sweet tooth.

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For the first few weeks it is not a good idea to give mixtures of foods other than baby rice mixed with a fruit or vegetable puree. Weaning is a good time to discover if there are any foods that your baby does not tolerate well, and when foods are mixed together it is hard to tell which of thern is causing a problem.

First vegetables: Carrot, potato, swede, parsnip, pumpkin, butternut squash (pumpkin) and sweet potato. Root vegetables like carrots and sweet potato tend to be the most popular with very young babies as they are sweet and smooth once pureed. From about five months, you can start to introduce courgette (zucchini), cauliflower, broccoli and peas.

First fruits: Apple, pear, banana, papaya (pawpaw) and avocado.

Baby rice: Mixed with water, breast or formula milk, baby rice is easily, digested and its milky taste makes an easy transition to solids. Choose one that is sugar free. Baby rice combines well with both fruit and vegetable purees.

Meat: Well-cooked pureed meat and pulses can be included in a baby's diet from four to six months. However, at this stage most of their protein and iron requirements are obtained from their breast milk or infant formula. Meats can be difficult to puree and I prefer to leave them until six months.

When to give feeds

Try to make feeding a special time to share with your baby rather than a chore and pick a time of day when you are not rushed or liable to be distracted. If possible, try to feed your baby around the same time every day to establish some kind of routine. Babies are used to food coming in a non-stop steady stream and sometimes find the gaps between spoonfuls annoying. For some babies it may be a good idea to begin by giving a little milk before their solids so that they are not frantically hungry, or they may become frustrated. For the first few days a baby will probably only have a tiny amount - maybe one or two spoonfuls. Start with one feed a day, probably around lunchtime, and gradually increase to about three feeds a day (breakfast, lunch and supper) by five or six months.

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Always test the temperature of your food before giving it to your baby. Sit your baby on your lap or in a baby chair and try to make it an enjoyable experience by smiling and talking to your baby as you feed her.

Food rejection

Avoid making a fuss if your baby won't eat and try to stay relaxed. Try re-introducing food after a couple of days if at first solids are refused, or prepare a runnier puree so that it is easier for your baby to swallow. You could also try dipping a clean finger in the puree and allowing your baby to suck it off your finger as some babies don't like the feel of a spoon in their mouths to begin with if your baby only takes a very little food, try not to make mealtimes too drawn out in an attempt to get him to eat more. Babies usually know when they have had enough.

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