If you are a first-time parent, you will have little to no idea about feeding your baby. How and when to start, what food to give are a few of the questions you might have.
You should keep in mind that during the first six months, you should exclusively breastfeed your baby. Solid food should be introduced to the baby only after six months. This is the norm as set forth by the WHO. This is because breastmilk can meet all the nutritional requirements of a newborn and is one of the purest forms of food that you can give a baby.
When Should You Start The Baby On Solid?
Though the general time frame to start solids is six months, you should also check whether the baby is ready to start on solids. Some babies who have met all the developmental milestones might be ready for solid even before six months, whereas some others might take more time.
The below are a few of the signs of readiness to eat solid.
- Good head control.
- Shows interest when others are eating.
- Putting things in the mouth.
- Open the mouth when you show them food.
If the baby shows any of the above signs, you can start feeding solid food.
What To Feed The Baby During The First Year?
A baby, less than four months of age, can consume only breast milk. During this stage, the baby may not have neck control to hold the head and swallow food.
4- 6 months
Though WHO stipulates that you should exclusively breastfeed the baby until six months, some parents start on solids even when the baby shows some signs of readiness. This can be anywhere between four and six months.
The first food that you feed the baby is called stage 1 food. This food is in a pureed and strained form that your baby can easily swallow, like rice or wheat cereal. You should feed the baby in a small quantity, like one tablespoon. Breast milk continues to be the main source of food for the baby at this stage.
Once the baby get used to the taste of stage 1 food, you can introduce more varieties of food. Besides infant cereal, you can provide fruit juice, pureed fruits and vegetables and beans. You should properly cook all food items and puree them so that the baby can easily swallow. You can also feed 1-3 ounces of water. Yalla Baby has a great variety of pureed fruits to shop from. Click here to see them all.
At this stage, you can slowly increase the quantity of food from 1-2 tablespoon to 2-4 tablespoons. But you should increase it gradually so that the baby does not feel overwhelmed.
At this stage, you can provide mashed food instead of pureed ones. This introduces the baby to different textures of food. But make sure that you cook the food well and mash it.
Besides infant cereals, fruits and vegetables, you can also introduce meat at this stage. You should feed the baby a very little quantity of meat so that it is easy to digest. You can also introduce dairy products like cheese and yoghurt at this stage.
How To Feed The Baby?
Though your baby might show signs of readiness, he may not take to the food easily. While some babies enjoy the taste right from the first feed, others might spit it out. This is quite natural, and you should not be taken aback by this reluctance.
You should always place the baby in a semi-lying position when you start feeding. For a 6-month-old, you can either hold the baby in your arm, or make the baby lie down with pillows under the head. Alternatively, you can also use a reclining high chair. As the baby grows and becomes comfortable sitting, you can make him sit in a high chair.
You should always start with a very small quantity and slowly increase it as the baby grows. If you are preparing the food at home, it is best not to store any unused food. On the other hand, if you are feeding ready to eat food to the baby, you should scoop out the required quantity into a bowl and store the rest of the food in the refrigerator.
How To Get Started With Feeding?
As mentioned earlier, you should start only with pureed and strained food that the baby can swallow easily (See UAE buying options here). First, take half a teaspoon of the food and keep it at the tip of the baby’s tongue. Let the baby get used to the new taste. Slowly, you can feed rest of the food in the spoon.
It is best to start with single grain food like rice or wheat based cereals. This way you can make out any allergic reaction in the baby. You should continue feeding the same food in the same quantity for a week. If the baby is comfortable with the food and the quantity, you can slowly introduce a new food item. This is particularly so for food that cause allergy like wheat and egg.
Some parents introduce cereals in a liquid form and feed the baby in the bottle. Though this is convenient, it will not serve the purpose of introducing solid food. Initially, you can feed the cereal in a liquid form, but once the baby get used to the taste you should slowly change the consistency of the food.
When Should You Stop Feeding The Baby?
Initially, you should feed only one tablespoon of solid food to the baby. As the baby grows you should increase the quantity to 3 or 4 tablespoons. But then how will you know whether the baby is full? When should you stop feeding the baby?
You should stop feeding the baby
- When the baby turns the head when you give food.
- Does not open the mouth when you try to feed.
- Start playing with the spoon.
Babies take a lot of time to eat and get used to the new taste. Thus, you need a lot of patience while feeding the baby. While some get used to the new taste fast, some babies might take a lot of time. It is best to introduce food items slowly so that the baby can enjoy the new experience. See the nutrition range in Yalla Baby for great feeding options.