When should I introduce solid foods to the baby?
As long as your baby shows signs, his doctor can tell you that you can start giving solid foods at any time around 4 to 6 months.
Until then, breast milk or formula provides all the calories and nutrients your baby needs and can handle. Infants do not yet have the physical abilities to safely swallow solid foods, and their digestive system is simply not ready for solid foods until they are about 4 months old.
1) How to know that my baby is ready for solid foods ?
Your baby will give you clear signs when he is ready for a diet other than a liquid diet. The clues to look for are:
- Control of the head
Your baby must be able to keep his head in a stable and upright position.
- Good sitting when eating
Your baby should be able to sit upright on a feeding seat or high chair to swallow.
- Loss of the “exclusion reflex”
Your baby’s mouth and tongue develop in harmony with his digestive system. To start solid foods, he should be able to move the food to the back of his mouth and swallow it, instead of using his tongue to push the food out of his mouth.
- Significant weight gain
He may be willing to eat solid foods if he has doubled his birth weight, weighs at least 13 pounds (about 5 kilos), and is at least 4 months old.
- Curiosity on the food
Your baby may start looking at or looking for food or open his mouth if you give him a spoonful.
2) Safety measures by introducing solid foods
- At this age, other foods are more for experimentation, play and pleasure. Do not forget to give breast milk again after the solid “meal”.
- Some babies like to sit in a high chair while others prefer to sit on their knees. Babies are disordered, so you may be able to put a garment or cloth under your chair for easier cleaning.
- Many babies prefer to snack instead of eating. The first foods are for fun and experimentation. Cleanliness does not count!
- Never leave a baby or young child alone with food lest he choke.
- Never give your baby small, hard foods such as groundnuts or roasted corn. Circular foods such as carrots or grapes should be sliced and then divided into two or quarters.
- Start with small amounts of food – about a quarter of a teaspoon once a day. Gradually increase the amount of food and feeding frequency to satisfy your baby’s hunger and interest.
- Use only simple ingredients and wait about a week before introducing each new food. So, if something is bothering your baby, you will know exactly what it is.
- To reduce the risk of allergies, it is best to wait until your baby is at least one year old before introducing citrus fruits.
- If there is a family history of food allergy, talk to your doctor or allergist about when to introduce allergenic foods; it can change the recommendations for babies with no allergic history.
- Babies under one year of age should not be given honey or corn syrup because they are at risk of botulism.