Congratulations your baby is almost 6 months old and ready to explore the world of new foods, textures, and flavours.
When to start solid foods
Exclusively give your baby breast milk or baby formula for the first 6 months. Initially start solid foods as an addition to, not a substitute, for breast milk or formula.
These signs are good indicator that your baby is ready for solid food:
- Baby has very stable head control and can sit up well with minimal support
- Baby shows interest in food when he or she sees others eating
- Baby gets excited to see approaching food and opens up for a bite when you bring the spoon of food to his or her mouth
- Baby is able to move food back and forth in his or her mouth and swallow well
What is the right first food for baby?
Start with iron-fortified baby rice or oatmeal cereal mixed with breastmilk or baby formula. Rice and oatmeal are typically non-allergenic hence make perfect first foods. However, it is a recommendation but not a mandate to give your baby cereal as a first food.
Alternatively, you can also try some mashed/purees made of sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, pears, bananas etc. You may have to boil a few of these because they are hard in texture and you cannot mash them without softening.
Store bough ready-to-eat canned baby food is also an option for baby food however with homemade baby food you may opt to save money and control ingredients and quality of the baby food. Whatever first foods you may choose follow the most important rule that should be at an optimal temperature, soft, and easy to swallow (avoid large chunks and sticky textures).
How to best feed baby?
- Assign a specific eating place such as a highchair or baby seat that allows baby to sit upright in proper eating position
- Assigning a particular feeding place makes baby excited about meal time
- Feed when baby is happy, calm, and not sleepy. So that these factors are not contributing to their lack of interest in the food offered or fussiness
- Make sure baby is not too hungry but also not totally full from a recent bottle or nursing session
- Offer small amount of food at a time with a spoon
- Make meal time fun and bonding time
- DO NOT force feed. Watch your baby’s cues regarding the acceptance or refusal of the flavor offered
- If baby seems disinterested in the food in beginning simply offer a sip of water from a sippy cup or spoon. After this, give it another try. If it is still not working, then stop the feeding and try again the next day.
- Let the baby hold their own spoon. Doing so makes them think they are in charge of the feeding. It is also a good practice for hand to mouth coordination
- In the beginning breast milk or baby formula is still the substantial source of nutrition for your baby. They only needs about a tablespoon of food PER DAY.
Encourage your baby to explore the food by taste and touch. Remember, initially it is not about quantity of the food offered. It is about learning. Happy Feeding!