The right time to introduce solids to your little one – Tips and tricks

Philips Mother and Child

Watching your baby grow and develop from when you first brought them home from the
hospital is an amazing experience that all parents don’t want to miss out on. And with
time comes change and growth and the biggest change that comes with your baby’s
growth and development is figuring out the right time to start introducing solid food into
their diet.

If your baby is breastfed, doctors usually recommend that you wait for the baby to be at least 6 months before introducing solids, even though for some babies the signs can start earlier on at around 4 months. In fact, there are quite a few tell-tale signs that will help you figure out whether your baby is ready for solids or not including – if your baby starts paying attention to you while you’re eating and attempts to grab your food to feed themselves, if they can support their neck and head, as well as sitting up without support – can be indicators that they are ready for the next step.

Once you figure this out – it is important that you realise what solid food really mean, for some you may think that it means normal food that everyone consumes, and while it is correct to some extent, the food needs to be pureed to make feeding a little simpler for you and the baby. As this will be the beginning of your baby’s nutritional journey following breastfeeding, you need to ensure that you feed them vitamin rich foods such as bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, eggs, apple sauce, oats and cheese just to name a few.

And investing in the right equipment will make the process a lot easy for you. Most parents don’t have the luxury of time as you are usually mending the house, tending to your partner and other kids and in some instance, you may be employed full time. Investing in a baby food maker can make life a breeze, specifically one that can steam and blend the food all in one jar. If you want to save time, you can prepare different meals for your baby for the week ahead and freeze them in suitable baby food containers for later use.

However, as your little one goes through this development phase, they will take much longer to learn to like and eat new foods than they did as a baby. What’s more, sometimes they are likely to become more selective about foods they will eat. They are more assertive at this stage and will often refuse to eat certain foods. Refusing to eat new foods is a normal developmental phase and usually starts soon after they have begun walking.

Don’t let meal time become a struggle. Keep meals simple and here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Encourage the family to eat together so that they will learn from copying their parents and older siblings – spacing meals appropriately.
  • Parents should comment positively about the foods offered to encourage babies and show them that the food is enjoyable.
  • A daily routine should be designed around their sleeping pattern. Babies don’t eat well if they become over hungry or very tired. Stick to the routine.
  • Large bottles of milk should be avoided. Too much milk will fill them up and leave them with little appetite for food.
  • Use brightly coloured bowls and utensils – as this will encourage them to eat.
  • Parents should praise their children when they eat well as they respond positively to praise.
  • A calm, relaxed environment without distractions such as TV, games and toys encourages positive eating habits.
  • A meal should be finished within about 20 to 30 minutes and parents have to accept that after this they are probably not going to eat any more.

Introducing solids in your baby’s diet is a big adjustment for both mother and baby as you slowly cut down on the number of times you breastfeed, it affords you with time to focus on you or on other things you were not able to do before. And for your little one, the adjustment may take a while as they are experiencing real food for the first time and adjusting to all the tastes and smells can be overwhelming. But just find comfort in knowing that they are growing healthy and strong.

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