Is the thought of introducing solid food to your infant’s diet daunting? Are you unsure if your baby is ready for solids, or nervous about the order of foods that should be introduced? Luckily, our infant daycare is experienced in this area. Prepare yourself for gooey hands, sticky faces, and sloppy trays while we share tips on introducing solids to a baby’s diet.
When Should an Infant Be Introduced To Solids?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that nothing other than breast milk or formula is to be given before the age of four months. They also agree that, depending on the infant, the best time to introduce solid food is between the ages of four to six months.
8 Signs That Your Infant is Ready for Solid Foods:
- They can sit up. This can either be alone or slightly supported.
- They have control of their head and neck.
- They seem hungry – milk alone does not satisfy their hunger.
- They appear curious when you are eating.
- They open their mouths when food is offered to them.
- They try to grasp small objects, toys, and food and put them in their mouth.
- They have a tongue thrust reflex that pushes food out onto their chin, but still manage to swallow most of what you put in their mouth.
- They swallow after managing to push the food from the front to the back of their mouth.
How To Minimize Meal-Time Stress
Mealtimes can either be fun or be extremely stressful. How you, the parent, approach mealtimes, can make all the difference.
Some ideas to reduce mealtime stress include:
- Create a regular feeding schedule. Try to feed them at specific times during the day.
- Create a fun mealtime routine. This can include washing hands and singing a mealtime song.
- Once seated, both parent and child should be calm and relaxed. Parents must not allow any distractions during mealtimes.
- Be prepared for a mess. Infant feeding, especially at first, is very messy, so don’t fight it. You can clean up the mess later.
- Encourage your infant to explore their senses with food textures, by self-feeding (from about eight months old).
- Allow them to hold, and play with a spoon while you feed them.
- Be patient. This is a new experience for your baby, and it may take a while to get used to the new sensations in their mouth.
- Mealtimes must not be a power struggle. Do not force-feed your infant.
How Should Solid Food Be Introduced
Studies show that if solids are introduced at six months, the infant should be eating a variety of foods by seven to eight months. They also show that the order of foods introduced is not important. Some tips to consider when introducing an infant to solids are:
- Start slowly. At 6 months, your baby should eat two to four tablespoons twice a day. This can increase to three meals a day between seven and twelve months.
- Most parents start feeding their babies watered-down rice cereal. This is a good place to start but aim to slowly introduce fortified cereals like oats, barley, and multigrain cereals.
- Use breast milk or formula to make the consistency of the food soft and smooth. Do not introduce cow’s milk until they are one year old.
- Although infants will eventually eat various fruit, vegetables, yogurt, meat, eggs, and cheese, it is important to only introduce one ingredient at a time. Wait three to five days between ingredients and observe for any problems or reactions.
- If using food from a jar, do not feed them directly from the jar unless they are going to finish it. Spoon out what you need into a bowl, avoid contaminating the rest, and reseal the jar for the next meal.
How To Prepare Food for An Infant
Your infant does not have all their teeth, so all food they are given needs to be cooked and served correctly.
It is important to:
- First, mash, puree, or strain all food (including fruit) until it is very smooth. Once your infant tolerates food without gagging, spitting, or coughing, you can slowly make it thicker and lumpier.
- For a smoother consistency, add breastmilk or formula.
- Remove all fat, skin, and bones from meat and poultry, and seeds and pit from fruit.
- Cook and finely grind all grains like wheat, barley, and rice.
- When your infant is eating finger foods (between nine and twelve months) ensure that the food is soft and cut into small pieces or slices.
- Cylindrical foods like cheese or sausage should be cut into thin slices.
- Spherical foods like grapes, cherry tomatoes, and berries, must be cut into small pieces.
Tips To Prevent Infant Choking During Mealtimes
A choking infant is any parent’s worst nightmare, so every parent must familiarize themselves with First Aid for infant choking. Here are five tips that should minimize the risk of choking:
- Ensure that the food is cooked and prepared properly. (According to the child’s development)
- Avoid small, sticky food that is hard to chew to swallow.
- Ensure that your baby is sitting upright when eating. They should not be lying down, crawling, walking, in a moving car or stroller.
- Never leave your baby alone while it is eating.
- Feeding time is not the time to multitask. Feeding your infant must demand 100% of your attention.
- Avoid foods like:
- Hard candy
- Raw, hard vegetables
- Peanut Butter
- Hot dogs
Providence Children’s Academy – The Infant Daycare of Choice in Coconut Creek
If you are wanting more infant care tips, and are looking for a family-orientated daycare and preschool in Coconut Creek, Providence Children’s Academy is waiting for your call.
To find out more about us and for a tour of our facilities, call 954-570-6914 Monday to Friday 6.30 am to 6.30 pm.