Introducing Solid Food
Once you have decided that it is time to introduce solid foods into your child's diet you will need to figure out how to do this. You will want to continue to breastfeed or use formula. In no way are solid foods a substitute for breast milk or formula. Start to add solid foods so your baby will start to get used to new foods and textures. It also helps them develop hand-eye coordination as they start to eat finger foods. Please remember that solids during the first year are solely meant to compliment the milk they are getting, not to take the place of.
Just as there is a lot of controversy regarding when to start your child on solid food, so is there with what to start them on. Traditionally, doctors suggest that you start with a solid, such as a single grain cereal. The suggestion is to mix one tablespoon of an iron fortified single grain cereal such as rice or oatmeal with four tablespoons of breast milk or formula.
When you do this, you will notice that it will be the consistency of a liquid and that you may be tempted to put this in their bottle. Do not do this. It is important to get your child get used to eating from a spoon and swallowing the cereal in this matter. Make sure you use a small soft-tipped plastic spoon to not hurt their gums. Some mothers only do this every couple of days, others do it once a day. Once again professionals suggest that you limit any water you give them to two ounces in a twenty-four hour period. If you do give them water it should be given in a small cup.
Some professionals state that you can start your baby off with pureed fruits and vegetables and dispense with the cereal. For example, such things as pureed sweet potatoes, bananas, peaches, squash, pears and applesauce are all great foods to start with. Whether you start with cereal or pureed fruits and vegetables, you should do it early in the day so you can watch for allergies. Don't try for the first time when they are tired or cranky. Giving them solid food for the first time is a big deal and needs to be done under the best of circumstances.
If the baby rejects the food, come back in a day or two when they have forgotten about the first trial and try again. If the baby turns their head to the side when you are feeding them then this means they are full. Don't worry about finishing the food.
Keep in mind that you should be offering pureed foods that have no added sugar or salt. Start with one type of food and wait about three to five days in between before offering a new food. The reason you want to do this is to make sure they aren't allergic to each of the foods. If you don't wait the five days, you will not be able to tell which food they are allergic to. Signs of an allergy may include vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, swollen face, or a rash.
The progression of foods for your child will vary for each child but the general progression should go something like pureed or semi-liquid food, strained or mashed food, and then small pieces of finger foods. If you have store bought baby food, do not feed from the jar. Put the food in a small bowl, because otherwise you won't be able to keep the leftovers because you have introduced bacteria in the jar.
When babies reach 8 to 10 months, they are ready to try cut up finger foods. You should also be aware that it is not necessary to give a baby juices at this time. If you do, it should be only 2 ounces every 24 hours and it should be 100% juice. Add a couple drops of water to it so it is not too strong.
I know this seems like a lot to of work but look at it as an exciting time where your child gets to discover all those great foods they might learn to love. Good luck and don't get disappointed if it does not work the first time you try.