Introducing solid foods
The current recommendation is to wait until the baby is 4 to 6 months old. Around this age babies gain control of the head and can sit upright more easily. Both of these developmental milestones show that a baby is ready to eat from a spoon. A baby needs the nutrients in solid foods after age 4 to 6 months. By this time the baby has doubled its birth weight and will become hungrier. The baby will need more food.
How to introduce solid foods
- Go slowly. One or two spoonfuls will be enough.
- Introduce only one new food at a time. Give the baby a few days to get used to it before adding another. By doing this it becomes easier to identify any food allergies.
- Start with rice cereals. Some pediatricians recommend iron–fortified infant rice cereal as rice is less likely to cause allergic reactions than other grains. This gives your baby a good source of iron, as well as a good distribution of calories between carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
- Touch is still important. Hold your baby while introducing solid food.
You must be very careful while heating baby food in the microwave. Microwaves can heat a food unevenly, forming hot–spots. One spoonful of the food may be cold, yet the next spoonful could burn the baby’s mouth. Warming the food is not necessary, If you do warm the food in a microwave oven, make sure the temperature is right and also stir the food well before feeding baby.
Vegetables & fruits
Milk for the older baby
Until the age of six months babies need either breast milk or commercial formula as their main source of nutrients even though babies will begin to eat other foods. Around 10 to 12 months eggs can be added to their diet. Although egg yolks can be added to the diet around 10 months, egg whites or whole eggs should not be given to your baby until the end of the first year. This is because egg whites often cause allergic reactions if given too early. Cheese and yogurt in small amounts may be added to the diet now.
By the age of 10 to 12 months the baby will have a set pattern for meals. The baby will still need to eat more frequently than other family members, with mid–morning, mid–afternoon, and evening snacks as well as regular meals.
Drinking from a cup
At around 10 months the baby may begin to drink from a cup with help to hold the cup. Around 12 months of age most babies can handle a cup alone. Milk, water, and juice may all be given in a cup instead of a bottle. Give small quantities of liquid at first. Offer just 1 or 2 ounces (1/8 cup) and gradually increase the amount. Some babies are ready to give up nursing or the bottle around this age. Many will want to have a bottle for a few more months.
Babies are generally weaned by the end of the first year. As a baby learns to drink more milk from the cup, bottles or breast feedings can be discontinued gradually. A baby who continues to drink large amounts of milk may not be eating enough solid foods to meet his or her increasing nutritional needs. By the age of 1 year a baby should be eating a variety of foods and drinking only about 2 cups of milk a day.
Things to watch
Raw eggs and raw milk are not right for babies. These foods may be sources of infections that can be dangerous to infants. Foods that are avoided in babies include desserts, carbonated beverages, caffeine–containing beverages and candy. They provide calories but few nutrients.
Food for life
Good nutrition is essential for normal growth and development throughout life. Proper growth and development depend on an adequate supply of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals. You can help your baby learn by making feeding time a happy time. You can help your baby develop healthy lifetime eating habits as you introduce nutritious new foods. You should feed your child healthy and nutritious food on right times and in right quantity.