Why does my baby need solid food since breastmilk is so nutritious? When do i let baby try solids? Ooooh...baby seems eager to try eating...He can't wait... (or more like: 'I can't wait!') How do i start? Do i cut down milk? Shall i start with cereals, fruit or vegetable puree? Do i cook porridge for baby?
If you are planning to let baby try solids for first time, chances are you will be loaded with burning questions! Many moms and dads have become 'Google monsters' because of this. There are just so many different schools of thought on this topic. Well, this is my favourite topic! I fed and nurtured 3 eager beavers who grew up loving food, have no problems chomping the goodies (veggies and wholegrains etc...).
With the help of my youngest Baby Kaelyn (Baby K), i am gonna to share essential tips, how-tos and demo videos to help parents with this major milestone. I hope to help you learn to be confident 'feeders' and lead baby into a lifetime of many healthy happy meals!
Firstly, i must say that most of us call this process 'Weaning' but technically it can be rather misleading. We are not weaning baby off anything (baby still needs milk as main source of nutrition), we are simply introducing complementary foods into baby's diet. Why? Simply because:
baby is undergoing exponential growth at this stage and needs additional nutrients to grow
after 6 months, baby's internal Iron reserve or even breastmilk's iron content may not be enough to help meet his/her needs anymore
baby needs to learn how to chew, swallow and develop oral motor skills that will help with speech development
we want baby to join us at the dining table and bond as a family during meal times
When can i start baby on solids? I strongly recommend parents to consider introducing solid foods when baby is about 6 months old and not too early. WHO recommends exclusive breastmilk for baby's first 6 months of life for a reason- breastmilk contains all the essential for baby to grow during the first 6 months. Nothing is more nutritious than breastmilk, nope not even organic and multiple nutrient fortified cereals. Baby's digestive system is still developing and early introduction of solid foods may not be beneficial to baby at all.
How do i prepare myself and baby for this milestone? Firstly, look for developmental signs that indicate baby's readiness. Many parents start offering solid foods to baby once they notice one or two common signs such as enhanced salivation and interest in adult food. You should check off a few more developmental signs before starting baby on solids. Have a look at Baby Eats! Video 1: Baby K's milestone check before introducing solid foods.Let Baby K show off some to you!
Secondly (and very importantly), help baby ease into this eating 'ritual' with a good spoon and some training. Yes that's right, training! Note that it is natural and common for baby to display the tongue protrusion/thrust reflex at this stage (see image below).
The tongue thrust reflex helps protect baby against choking and also help them suckle from a breast or bottle. This reflex will gradually disappear when baby gets older. So don't worry if baby shows you his/her tongue while feeding, this doesn't mean that he/her dislikes the food. You can 'train' baby to help him/her get used to swallowing and using a spoon. Checkout Baby Eats! Video 2: Baby K's pre-solid food 'training' video here.
The solid meal experience is different for every baby. I conduct informative sessions on helping babies ease into their solid food meal routine and help parents prepare nutritious first foods for their baby. Call me for a discussion and i'll be happy to help.