Feeding your baby for the first time with solids is a very exciting time for every new mum. When I started feeding my own lovely babies for the first time, I actually had a lot of mixed feelings: excitement, yes, but at the same time, it was hard to realize my little ones were growing up to their next new stage.
In a way, it’s a relief as well, for a new mum, that after four months of exclusive breastfeeding, that the baby has reached a stage where he can get another form of nourishment on top of breast milk. Especially at this stage, the baby can become very demanding with the breast feeds, and would prefer to have more and more feeds each day, which can be very exhausting for mum’s body.
At the age of 4-6 months, when the solid food is first introduced to the baby, it is after the breastfeed or formula feed. Make sure at this stage that solids are just an introductory food, and never replace their main food source of breast milk or formula.
So why do we need to introduce solids?
At this stage, babies have used up all the iron they absorbed in their bodies during pregnancy, and they need more iron to continue developing. Babies still absorb iron through breast milk and formula, but they need additional iron from solid foods as well.
It is also at this stage that they need more than their recommended amount of milk a day, and they start to show signs that they are not satisfied by milk feeds alone.
Additional benefits of introducing solids at this age include:
- Giving your baby the experience of new tastes and textures from a range of foods
- Developing baby’s teeth and jaws
- Building other skills that baby will need later for language development.
Babies in the age group of 4-6 months will start showing signs when they are ready for solids. If babies can sit up in a high chair comfortably, show interest in food when you’re eating, and open their mouth when you offer food are truly ready for solids.
So what is the best time to start feeding your baby? I would recommend one or two hours after a milk feed, when your baby is calm and relaxed, to start introducing solid foods.
At four months of age, make sure you always offer solids after breast milk or formula. Babies will still have room to try out new foods, and will be more willing to try solids after their hunger is satisfied first.
Once you start feeding your baby solid foods, it’s important to recognise the signs that your baby is either hungry or full.
How to know when your baby is hungry:
- Baby shows excitement when he sees you getting food ready
- Baby leans toward the spoon
- Baby opens his mouth for the spoon
- Baby shows excitement and interest in trying the food
Be prepared, because it is very common for mealtime to get messy. Babies see food as play and a way to interact with mum at this stage. New textures excite them, and if they feel like throwing the food at you, they will go ahead with that straight away. So mums, be prepared for a messy feeding!
How to know when your baby is full or no longer interested in food:
- Baby turns his head away
- Baby loses interest in the food, looks sleepy or distracted
- Baby pushes spoon away or tries to throw away the food bowl
- Baby tightens his lips
If you’ve decided it’s time to start feeding your baby solids, there are a few things you need to do to prepare for the first two months of feeding:
- Get an easy-to-clean high chair, suitable for use from 4-6 months of age
- Use newspaper or another floor covering before you start mealtime, for easy cleanup
- Get a BPA-free spoon suitable for your baby’s mouth
- Get a bowl with tight suction so baby won’t be able to throw food away from the table
- Make sure you have lots of bibs clean and ready to go
It is also a good idea to introduce a sippy cup appropriate for your baby’s age, with water in it at this stage, to go along with the solid foods.
Follow these tips and introducing solids will go very smoothly. Most of all, have fun and enjoy every moment of your baby’s development at this stage!
Any medical information included in this blog post, related to medical guidelines, are general guidelines only. Always seek advice from a medical professional regarding concerns with pregnancy and infant health-related concerns.
Information sourced from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au provides health and medical information that is quality assured, reliable, up to date, easy to understand, regularly reviewed, locally relevant, and fully funded by the State Government of Victoria (Australia).