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Your Baby’s First Foods
When your baby is 4-6 months old it’s time to start introducing solids. This can be difficult for many first-time parents. What do you feed them? How much should you give and when should you start?
When to start? 4 months … 6 months … or somewhere in between? The jury is still out on that so the answer is… when you and your baby are ready. By the time your baby is 6 months old, breast milk or formula alone does not provide enough iron, zinc or calories to meet your baby’s needs. Your child is not ready to:
• You are less than 4 months old (ie: before 17 weeks).
* They cannot lean on a high chair without falling over on the other side.
• Your doctor has advised you to delay solids due to medical conditions.
* Preemie babies may be advised to delay solids based on their due date, check with your doctor.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for up to 6 months. The reason for this proposal was to reduce the number of infant deaths in developing countries. When solids or formula are made under unsanitary conditions there is a greater risk of stomach disease and infection – the older the baby the greater the chance of survival. However in developed countries research shows no difference in gastroenteritis rates when solids are introduced at 4 months. The WHO also mentions that exclusive breastfeeding for up to six months can lead to stunted growth, iron and other micronutrient deficiencies in some babies.
So why wait until 6 months if you live in a developed country? All babies grow at different rates and your child may not be ready for it. Otherwise you as a parent may not be ready – you may be away on holidays, worried about starting solids or just enjoying breastfeeding with ease. Don’t stress about waiting until 6 months is perfect. You should go through the first stages of solids sooner than starting at 4 months to ensure that your baby gets meat in his diet soon.
If you start at 4 months you can take it slowly, no rush, formula breast milk or formula is fine until 6 months so feeding is a bonus. By the time your baby reaches 6 months he will have tried a range of fruits, vegetables and cereals so you can easily add the meat they need to provide the iron and zinc they need. You will have a long time in the puree before it changes to a lumpy texture.
Before you begin, you will need:
* A good high chair – this is something worth investing in as it will be used every day for the next few years. Look for one with a removable tray, adjustable seat back, vinyl for easy wiping, wheels so you can bring it closer to you, adjustable height to transition from bench to dining table, safety straps, a color and design you like – it will be in your kitchen for a while and eventually it should be ready for the table. your budget.
There are many high chair reviews on YouTube so before you buy do a quick search for those you are considering.
* Bowls – look for bowls that have suction on the bottom so that when your little one starts to feed themselves there are fewer accidents.
* spoons – the first spoons should be soft and the head of the spoon smaller than a teaspoon.
* bibs – I like plastic scoops that can fit in the dishwasher but if they are too big use cloths first – the pumpkin will stain so don’t choose white.
* Food – You can make your own and freeze it or buy age-appropriate baby food.
• Make sure everything is clean and your hands are washed before preparing or feeding your baby.
When do I add another meal a day? After your child usually eats 2-3 Tablespoons it is time to add another meal.
When should I start eating lumps instead of puree? at 6-9 months babies start to chew even though they don’t have teeth, this is when you may start to have small lumps in the food. Chewing helps develop jaw muscles that are important for speech. At 9-12 months you can start finger foods. (Note if starting solids at 6 months start with puree first).
When can my child have a bottle of water? From around 6 months you can offer water in a soft sippy cup (water not juice is best).
When do I switch and breastfeed after solids instead of before? At 9 months solid foods should be plentiful and you can start to breastfeed for the second time. The amount taken from these nutrients will decrease slightly.
Why do people say different things about when to start food allergies? Many years ago it was thought that delaying the introduction of harmful foods such as eggs, nuts, peanuts, wheat, cow’s milk and fish could help prevent eating disorders. Studies since then have shown that this is not beneficial. In fact, new studies seem to show that the opposite may be true, showing that introducing wheat before 6 months reduces the risk of celiac disease and wheat allergy. More studies are needed in this area. For more information on this see the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy fact sheet. If you have a family history of food allergies then you know they can be life-threatening, so please consult your doctor or pharmacist about the best time to introduce these foods.
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