When your baby is 12 months old, it is the recommended time for introducing solid foods. The right way of finding out if your baby is ready for solid food is to observe him. If he can make some chewing motions, sit up, and turn the head away, you can start giving him solids. However, do not replace his liquid diet with solids. Instead of eliminating formula or breast milk, consider solid foods as an addition to the existing breast milk diet.
All you need to know about introducing solid foods:
- Practice is the key- It might appear as something easy and natural for grown-ups, but learning to eat solids requires practice. Give time to your little one to get accustomed to eating from a spoon and feeling solid foods inside the mouth. Instead of focusing on the amount of food he eats, let him enjoy the experience in the first few days.
- Start with cereal- It is not advisable to give hard solids to a baby. So, you can begin with rice cereals. Several good iron-fortified cereals for infants are available in the market. You can easily mix the cereal with breast milk or formula and get a runny consistency. This way, the change from liquid to solid will not be drastic for your baby. Gradually you can thicken the mixture as per your baby’s progress.
- Avoid honey and milk- Do not give cow’s milk till your baby is two years old. The reason is that its nutritional value is far less than formula milk or breast milk. Honey is again not a good option for small babies.
- Let him decide when to stop- Your baby will give you signals when he wants to stop. He might turn the head away, swat at the spoon, zip up the lips, cry or spit out. These clearly mean that he isn’t in the mood to eat more. In that case, do not annoy him and allow him to follow his instincts.
- It will be messy- As your little one grows, he’ll make attempts to touch the food. When that starts happening, there will be food all over him, on his hands, lips, nose, clothes, and on the floor. You have to understand that this is a tactile, full-body experience for him. So, you have to clean up each time he’s driven by the urge to feed himself. Remain patient and he’ll get better at this, just like all of us.
- Be careful about giving finger foods- You cannot give finger foods till your baby learns to chew properly. Foods such as raisins, banana pieces, carrot chunks, grapes etc. can choke the baby and therefore, give with caution.
If you find the task of feeding solids to your baby a challenging one, let us remind you that soon your baby will have full set of teeth. And once he’ll learn to choose tasty options for himself, you’ll feel that feeding milk to the baby was much easier.