Introducing Solid Food (Diversification)
Breast milk should be the main source of nutrition for a baby in his first year of life, and the habit of breastfeeding shouldn`t change when solid foods are introduced in the baby`s diet. The baby needs a lot of food, so don`t concern yourself that you may over-feed him.
The main purpose for the first 6 months of the baby represents his familiarization with different tastes and textures of the food, so the main source of food should remain the mother`s milk. It`s great if the baby eats only a teaspoon of food at each meal.
In some cases when mothers introduce solid foods, they start to become confused regarding the moment of breastfeeding. This activity should happen just as before and only to add small snacks of solid foods between breastfeeding sessions.
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After the first year, if the mother still breastfeeds, she may offer solid food as a main source and transform breastfeeding in a snack during the day.
Table of Contents
- 1 Recommendations on Food Diversification
- 2 What to Give First to your Child – Breastfeeding or Solid Food?
- 3 Introducing Solid Food
- 4 What Food to Start With?
- 5 How to Know that the Baby Is Ready for Solid Food?
- 6 Necessary Gear
- 7 What to do if He Refuses Solid Food?
- 8 Why Wait until 6 Months to Introduce Solid Food?
- 9 Signals that Some Foods Aren`t Comfortable for the Baby`s Stomach
- 10 How to Make the Baby Eat Solid Food?
- 11 Ideas for the First Solid Meal
- 12 Why Some Mothers Will Start Food Diversification at 4 Months?
- 13 Warning about Food Diversification
Recommendations on Food Diversification
- Add solid foods when the baby is 6 months old and continue to breastfeed him. – More info!
- Add baby food with a high nutritional intake.
- Prepare his food hygienically to avoid food poisoning.
- Offer to your child foods with proper “texture” and quantity according to his age.
Between 6 and 8 months, the baby can receive 1 small meal 2 times per day; between 9 and 11 months, he can receive a small meal 3 or 4 times per day, and between 12 and 24 months, he may receive 1 or 2 snacks per day supplementary. They are added along with the mother`s milk, which remains the main source of nutrition.
What to Give First to your Child – Breastfeeding or Solid Food?
Mothers who are first breastfeeding and then switch to solid food will notice that their babies are weaned later than babies who first eat solid food.
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It`s better to offer to your child solid food after 1 hour from the breastfeeding session. This is for the baby not to drink less milk.
Introducing Solid Food
- Breastfed babies digest solid food more rapidly than those fed with powdered milk, because the enzymes from the milk help digest starch, fats and proteins.
- Breastfed babies accept solid food more easily (sometimes), because they already recognize certain tastes from the mother`s milk, so they`ll be less moody with this type of food.
What Food to Start With?
- Start with non-spicy foods.
- You can give your baby any type of food you want, the order doesn`t count. Some foods offered to babies are: bananas, avocado, peaches, pears, rice cereals, pumpkins, carrots.
- Some mothers start with rice cereals, then they turn to finer foods like crushed bananas, and later meat and vegetables. – Read more!
- For babies under 6 months are recommended purees, and when they are ready, mothers can give them small pieces of fruits, bread or biscuits.
- You don`t need to purchase expensive baby foods; you can give them whatever you have cooked in your kitchen for breakfast, lunch or dinner (you can always make a puree from them, if necessary).
- Try to add as many types as foods in your baby`s diet. If he doesn`t like something, you can always add it later.
- Up to 8 months old, you need to make sure the baby`s diet contains fruits, vegetables, milk, meat or cereals rich in iron.
How to Know that the Baby Is Ready for Solid Food?
- He can hold the food in his mouth without pushing it outside with his tongue.
- He`s at least 4 months old, preferably 6 months.
- He`s still hungry after 8 to 12 breastfeeding sessions per day.
- He`s interested in the food from your plate.
- He`s attempting to imitate you by opening his mouth wide while you are eating.
- He can stay straight on his own.
- Tall chair, plastic plates and cutlery, bibs and small cup with beak.
- Baby food mixer, if you prepare his food by yourself.
What to do if He Refuses Solid Food?
Some children find it harder to adapt to solid food, sometimes this being the way their body protects itself until their digestive system is ready.
You shouldn`t worry too much if, however, the baby develops well and you are breastfeeding him with success. Each child adapts to food diversification in his own way. All you need to do is offer him a variety of foods, but if he doesn`t want to eat them, you shouldn`t force him.
Why Wait until 6 Months to Introduce Solid Food?
- The baby intestines start to mature around 4 to 6 months.
- Small babies of 4 months old still have the reflex of pushing the tongue, which makes it difficult to keep the food in their mouth.
- Babies learn how to stay straight after 5 months.
- Their teeth will grow when they are around 4 months old, some of them even 6 or 7 months.
Signals that Some Foods Aren`t Comfortable for the Baby`s Stomach
- Red irritation on their face or butt;
- Diarrhea or explosive stools;
- The baby is nervous;
- The spitting or vomit moments occur more often.
How to Make the Baby Eat Solid Food?
- Take a bite from the food you are giving him and show him, even if you have to exaggerate, how much you like it.
- Feed him when he`s awake, active and a good mood.
- Let him eat alone; this way, you encourage him to eat more, even if he`s making a mess – at least he`s eating.
- Add some breast milk in the food he`s eating, because the little one will find the taste more familiar and will have a more increased appetite.
- Eat together with him.
- Prepare him small pieces of food.
Ideas for the First Solid Meal
- Proteins: chopped meat, fish, meat, cooked eggs, omelette, yogurts, small sausages, creams.
- Starch: fish, rice, oats, bread, biscuits.
- Fruits & vegetables: crushed peas, sweet potato, roasted marrow, grapes, cream soaps, raisins, pepper pumpkin, melon, dried fruits or mango.
Why Some Mothers Will Start Food Diversification at 4 Months?
Sometimes, the mother feels that the baby is ready even since he`s 4 months old to eat solid foods, because he asks for more milk. This situation might be created by a boom of growth. Mothers should attempt to breastfeed every time the baby asks, but it`s not really necessary yet to start food diversification. A boom of growth lasts around a week, after which the baby starts to eat as before.
Some children start to take food from the table after 4 months. You can start diversification, but keep in mind that your breast milk may decrease in quantity if you start breastfeeding more rarely.
Also, the earlier you add solid foods to your baby`s diet, the sooner will the baby be weaned and you recover your menstruation.
Warning about Food Diversification
- Constipation from solid foods: Don`t replace breastfeeding too early with solid food, because the baby may experience constipation.
- The baby`s stools will change along with diversification.
- Food diversification will make the baby want less milk, which will lead to a decrease in the quantity of milk produced by your breast, therefore you`ll be fertile again.
- Always try to add a new food in the morning, so you can give time to the possible side effect to appear, instead of waking up at night due to this cause.
- Some babies might experience allergies to milk or eggs.