As a parent, your biggest concern is your baby's health and you want everything to be just right for them. Introducing solid food is an exciting moment as you are finally ready to enhance your baby's taste buds. Starting your baby on solids is an important decision that shapes the coming years of the child. Since, as a first-time parent you may have several nervous questions about your little one's diet, let’s discuss when to start your baby on solids as well as exactly what to feed them.
When to Stop Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding provides security, love, and comfort to the child. According to the World Health Organisation, it is important for the infant to sustain solely on breastfeeding throughout the initial six months. However, owing to the countless lifetime health benefits it has for the baby, WHO also recommends mothers to continue breastfeeding their infants for up to 2 years of age. From the 3rd year onward, your baby is absolutely capable of sustaining only on solid foods.
Introducing Your Baby to Solid Food
If you are a new mother wondering when to start your baby on solids, the best time of doing it is in their 6th month. By the sixth month, infants are able to swallow and digest safely. Initially, you can start by feeding them solids once a day, preferably in the afternoon when they can digest well. You can continue to breastfeed for the rest of the meals. Furthermore, introduce only one new food at a time. This allows your child to easily familiarize themselves with it. Maintain a gap of 2-3 days between each item you introduce.
When starting your baby on solids, ensure that bland food is avoided. Contrary to the popular misconception, giving bland food to the baby increases pickiness in them. Instead, adding herbs and spices enhances their taste buds and they gain greater acceptance of different flavours.
What to Feed
What you feed your baby from the age of 6 to 12 months will create a certain consumption pattern in them later in life. There are several pieces of research concluding that children who are exposed to more variety of food from infancy tend to explore and accept different kinds of food items better.
When you decide to start your baby on solids, you will find that there are lots of options of home-cooked food for babies. In India, traditionally, mothers have been including cooked dal, clarified butter (ghee), potato, and cooked white rice in their child's first solid food formula. The food is softened and kept lumpy (semi-solid) for easier digestion. Since iron and minerals are essential nutrients for growth, vegetables like spinach and carrot, and proteins like egg yolk can also be included in the diet, which will all together work toward your baby’s growth and development.
Feeding your infant correctly right from their childhood can avoid future illnesses as the right diet helps in building a stronger immune system. Besides, always consult with your paediatrician to know what is best for your child.