Introducing Solid Foods: When, What, and How – Part One

May 23rd, 2023 by dayat No comments »

This article provides information on why wait, infant feeding at a glance, feeding solids: six to nine months, and feeding strategies. There will be more on safe toddler (one year and older) feeding tips, feeding solids: nine to twelve months, making your own baby food, commercial baby food, and bring out the cup in Parts Two and Three, so keep an eye out for these articles.

During a four-or six-month checkup, you will probably like to ask your doctor, “when should I start solid food?” Perhaps one way to know when to begin giving your baby solid foods is when he starts “smooching.” Smooching is when he shows signs that he is interested, watches you eat. When his eyes follow your food as you move it from your plate to your mouth, when his hands reach out and grab my food and he is able to sit up in a high chair and join us at he table, then it’s time for the fun of solids to begin.

Experienced mothers have discovered a basic principle of introducing solids foods — feed babies according to their own developmental skills rather than a preset calendar or clock. babies’; appetites and feeding skills are as individual as their temperaments. Let’s feed them that way.

Over the years infant-feeding practices have changed — for the better. No longer do we feed babies according to the calendar, stuffing cereal into the reluctant six-week-old and feeling we have failed if baby has not taken a full-course meal by six months. Today, infant feeding involves matching good nutrition with individual developmental and intestinal readiness, which varies widely from baby to baby. Reading the feeding cues of your baby, introducing solid foods gradually, and encouraging self-feeding all lead to that important principle of baby feeding: creating a healthy feeding attitude.

Why Wait?
You and your three-month-old are comfortably breastfeeding, and baby certainly seems to be getting enough to eat. Now comes the daily phone call from the family nutritionist — your mother. “What is he eating now, dear?” Silence. You’ve been caught! The jars of baby food that grandmother bought are still unopened. Baby has not seemed interested, and you do not feel he is ready. You smoothly change the subject, defending your choice not to enter the race for solids just ye. (When this confrontation happens just “Make your doctor the scapegoat. Tell grandmother that Dr. Bill advised you to wait a while longer.”

Baby’s tongue movements and swallowing skills are the first clues to delaying solid foods. In the early months, babies have a tongue-thrust reflex that causes the tongue to automatically protrude outward when any foreign substance is placed upon it. This may be a protective reflex against choking on solids too early. Between four and six months this tongue-thrust reflex diminishes. Also, prior to six months of age many infants do not have good coordination of tongue and swallowing movements for solid foods. An added sign that babies were not designed for early introduction to solid foods is that teeth seldom appear until six or seven months, further evidence that the young infant is primarily designed to suck, rather than to chew.

Not only is the upper end of baby’s digestive tract not designed for early solids, neither are baby’s insides. A baby’s immature intestines are not equipped to handle a variety of foods until around six months, when many digestive enzymes seem to click in. Pediatric allergists discourage early introduction of foods especially if there is a strong family history of food allergies. Research shows that starting solids before six months increases the risk of allergies. Maturing intestines secrete the protein immunoglobulin IgA, which acts like a protective paint, coating the intestines and preventing the passage of harmful allergens (cow’s milk, wheat, and soy are common examples of foods causing allergies when introduced early)(. This protective IgA is low in the early months and does not reach peak production until around seven months of age. As the intestines maturee, they become more nutritionally selective, filtering out offending food allergens. Babies whose systems tend to be allergy-prone actually may show delayed willingness to accept solids — a built-in self-protective mechanism.

Infant Feeding At a Glance
Age – Birth to 6 months
Food Sequence
Breast milk and/or iron-fortified formula satisfies all nutritional requirements.
Solid foods not nutritionally needed under 6 months of age.
Food Presentation
Breast and/or bottle
Developmental Skills, Implications for Feeding
Designed to suck, not chew
Rooting reflex; searches for food source
Tongue-thrust reflex pushes out solid foods
Sensitive gag reflex

Age – 6 months
Food Sequence
Starter foods:
rice cereal
Food Presentation
Strained, pureed
Small spoonful
Developmental Skills, Implications for Feeding
Tongue-thrust and gag reflexes lessen; accepts solids
Sits erect in high chair
Begins teething

Age – 7 to 9 months
Food Sequence
sweet potatoes or yams
mashed potatoes
barley cereal
teething biscuits
pear and apple juice, diluted
Food Presentation
May drink from cup
Finger foods begin
Pureed and mashed foods
Holds bottle
Developmental Skills, Implications for Feeding
Thumb-and-forefinger pickup begins
Fascination with tiny food morsels
Begins mouthing chokable food and objects (parents beware!)
Bangs, drops, flings
Reaches for food and utensils
Munches food

Age – 9 to 12 months
Food Sequence
lamb, veal tofu
poultry beans
rice cakes peas
egg yolk oatmeal
cheese spinach
Food Presentation
Lumpier consistency
Finger foods mastered
Bite-size cooked vegetables
Melt-in-mouth foods
Holds trainer cup
Developmental Skills, Implications for Feeding
Self-feeding skills improve
Holds bottle and cup longer
Points and pokes, smears, enjoys mess
High-chair gymnastics increase
Tries to use utensils, spills most

Age – 12 to 18 months
Food Sequence
whole milk apricots
cottage cheese grapefruit
ice cream grape halves
whole eggs strawberries
beef tomatoes
fish (salmon) pasta
broccoli graham crackers
cauliflower wheat cereal
melon honey
mango pancakes
kiwi muffins
papaya bagel
Food Presentation
Participates in family meals
Eats chopped and mashed family foods
Begins self-feeding with utensils
Developmental Skills, Implications for Feeding
Has prolonged attention span
“Do it myself” desire intensifies
Tilts cup and head while drinking; spills less
Holds spoon better, still spills much
Begins walking — doesn’t want to sit still and eat
Picks at others’ plates

Age – 18 to 24 months
Food Sequence
Eats toddler-size portions of:
sandwiches stews
nutritious puddings sauces
dips smoothies
toppings shakes
spreads pate
Toddler food “language”:
avocado boats O-shaped cereal
cooked carrot wheels toast sticks
cheese blocks cookie-cutter sandwich
broccoli trees canoe eggs
Food Presentation
Grazes — deserves title “picky eater”
Nibble tray
Weans from bottle
Uses spoon and fork
Developmental Skills, Implications for Feeding
Molars appear — begins rotary chewing
Spoon-feeds self without spilling much
Learns food talk, signals for “more,” “all done”
Wants to eat on the run — needs creative feeding to hold attention at table
Has erratic feeding habits

Feeding Solids: Six to Nine Months
Breast milk or commercial formula with iron or a combination of the two contains all the essential nutrients your baby needs for the fist six to nine months. Consider solid foods as an addition to, not a substitute for, breast milk or formula. For a breastfeeding baby it’s best to start solid foods slowly so they don’t

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