The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth and breastfeeding along with solid foods until at least age one. Studies show that many mothers feed their young ones solid foods earlier without knowing the risks.
Dr. T J Gold, a pediatrician with Tribeca Pediatrics in Brooklyn said, “when a baby is ready to start eating solid foods, he will put his hands in his mouth and make chewing motions. At 2 to 3 months, they can not even hold their heads up well and they cannot sit making it dangerous to put solid foods in their mouth”.
Solid foods should not be introduced at early age because the gut bacteria is not yet developed properly which allow them to process solid food safely. Introducing solid foods before ideal time may lead to gastroenteritis and diarrhoea. Moreover, it has also been linked to increased risk of obesity, diabetes, eczema and celiac disease.
How to start solid food to your baby after six months
Start from single ingredient foods
Give single ingredient foods that do not contain sugar or salt and wait three to five days between each new food. If your baby develop a reaction such as, rash or vomiting, the cause will be clearly known. After introduction of single ingredient foods, baby can be given them in combination.
Start with purees either cereal like oatmeal or pureed fruits and vegetables
Purees can be prepared at home or purchased. Introduce a new food or flavor every few days and be sure to decide for variety of colors of foods. Do not serve it in bottle . instead help your baby sit upright and offer cereal with a spoon once or twice a day. Offer a variety of single grain cereals such as rice, oatmeal or barley.
Start with pureed vegetables and then offer fruits and wait three to five days between each new food. Introduce water in a cup along with solid foods to help digestion of food and prevent constipation. If your baby refuse a food the first time do not despair and do not force. Instead try again in a week, you baby may eventually like it.
Offer finely chopped finger foods
Most of the babies are able to handle small portions of finely chopped finger foods, such as, soft fruits, vegetables, pasta, cheese, well cooked meat and dry cereals by 8 months to 10 months. Offer your baby three meals a day as well as snacks with mashed or chopped foods as baby reach age one.
Avoid cow’s milk or honey before age one
Cow’s milk do not meet baby’s nutritional need and it is not the good source of iron and may result in iron deficiency. Honey might contain spores which can lead to life threatening illness known as infant botulism.
Do not offer chunks of foods that can cause your baby to choke
Do not offer chunks of meat, cheese, fruits, vegetables because it can cause your child to choke. In addition, do not give hard foods, such as, seeds, nuts, popcorn and hard candy.
Iron and zinc are essential nutrients in the second half of your baby’s first year. Sources of iron and zinc are pureed meats and single grain iron fortified cereal.