Introducing solids to your baby? Here are some important dos and don’ts
When introducing solids to your little one’s diet, it’s important to feed them suitable foods that give them the right nutrition. Know more about it in this article.
Introducing solids is an important milestone in your baby’s life. While it is okay to allow your little one to explore different foods, there are certain foods which you don’t have to give immediately, and can be introduced later.
Mom, here’s how you can start introducing solids to your baby.
1. Feed your baby an iron fortified cereal, preferably rice
Here are some useful and effective tips to start feeding cereal to your six-month-old baby, along with breastmilk.
- Start with single-ingredient foods like rice cereal without added salt and sugar. Moms, remember to feed the same ingredient for two to three days and keep track of the way your baby responds to it. This will help you understand if your baby is allergic to any food.
- Rice cereal is preferable as your baby’s first solid food because it is light on your little one’s stomach and triggers no allergies. Because it is is easy to digest, rice cereal helps your baby make a smooth transition from breast milk to solid foods.
- Go for an iron-fortified rice cereal such as Cerelac because iron intake is crucial for your baby’s brain development during this period. It provides your child with more than 50% of their daily iron intake. The rice cereal by Cerelac is also available in a brown rice variant.
- The American Academy of Paediatrics advises not to make rice cereal the only food in your baby’s meal. So, eventually you can add other single-ingredient cereals like barley, quinoa and oats. You can also try feeding soya or wheat cereal to your baby at this stage.
2. Introduce strained vegetables and fruits after trying a variety of cereals
Once your baby gets used to the basic cereals you can gradually introduce them to pureed and strained vegetables and fruits. While these are full of nutritional benefits for your child’s development, a change of taste and texture will be welcomed by your little one, too.
Here’s what you can include in your baby’s diet.
- Sayote: Squash is rich in beta carotene that converts to vitamin A in your baby’s body. It can also act as an anti-oxidant.
- Carrot: Also an excellent source of beta-carotene, carrots are also rich in fibre, iron, calcium and vitamins.
- Green Leafy Vegetables: Rich in iron, they can also be easily steamed and then pureed.
- Apple: Apples are rich in dietary fibre that prevents constipation and also vitamin C for enhanced iron absorption. Moreover, they are easily digestible and unlikely to cause any allergies.
- Banana: Naturally sweet, this fruit is rich in potassium and vitamins B2, B6 and C good for heart health, and saturated fat. Try mixing some rice cereal for a delicious and healthy meal.
Apart from these, you can also include soft fruits like avocado, mango and ripe papaya in your baby’s diet.
3. Meats and breads can be introduced once your baby has explored the veggie diet
From fruits and vegetables, your little connoisseur can next graduate to cooked meat. Mince it or chop it finely and then add to rice cereal. Cerelac Rice and Chicken variant can be a perfect food for your eight-month-old baby.
Bread can also be introduced along with meat. Make sure you’ve tried wheat earlier as that will rule out the possibility of a gluten allergy. You can toast the bread and offer it as finger food as well.
4. Choose smooth, single foods when introducing solids for your baby
Six months is considered an appropriate age to introduce your little one to solid foods. By this time, some babies may have started teething while others remain without their pearly whites.
So, at the age of six months, your little one may not totally depend on his or her teeth for eating. That’s why you should begin with smooth textured single foods such as:
- Soft fruits without peels and seeds .
- Harder fruits, which are gently stewed
- Steamed or boiled vegetables.
- Homemade chicken or vegetable nuggets, but of course, without salt or sugar.
5. Cold finger foods to offer when your little one starts teething
Finger foods like chunks of chilled watermelon and cucumber can be soothing for your teething baby. You can bake a variety of vegetables, such as zucchini and sweet potato, for exciting flavours and textures your little one will love. Tofu, and bits of soft cheese are also good options for babies who are teething.
Apart from these you can also offer biscuits, crackers and rice cakes to your teething baby.
While there are lots of foods that your little one can enjoy, at the same time, not all foods are appropriate.
Here’s what you should avoid when introducing solids to your baby
1. Feeding your baby egg whites
Keep the egg whites for after your little one’s first birthday. Some babies can be sensitive to the proteins in egg white, which is why it’s better to avoid them at first. To prevent salmonella infection, wash the eggshell properly before cracking it and cook the egg well.
2. Introducing common allergens like nuts, fish, shellfish
Allergies by nuts or seafood can be quite common. Nut butters can also pose an allergy risk.
While fish is a great source of protein, it may also provoke allergies in little ones.
Don’t avoid these foods completely, though. Instead, introduce them in tiny quantities over time. That way, you can help your baby develop a sensitisation towards these foods.
However, keep in mind that some types of fish like King Mackerel and Tuna may contain high levels of mercury. It’s best to avoid these completely.
3. Checking for your baby’s gluten and lactose intolerance
Many kids can have gluten intolerance. Therefore, you need to introduce foods like wheat, oats, rye and barley at a slightly later stage. It also means you may have to wait a bit longer before introducing your baby to products like cakes and biscuits as well. This is not entirely a bad thing as you’re also avoiding adding unnecessary sugar and salt to your baby’s diet this way.
Whole milk should be introduced with caution to your little one’s diet, due to the risk of lactose intolerance. Reactions in your baby such as flatulence, indigestion and non-stop crying may indicate this condition. So if you notice these symptoms, it’s best to consult your paediatrician without delay.
4. Using artificial seasonings and flavours
Remember: your little one needs to get used to natural flavours and tastes.
Artificial seasonings and flavours have strong tastes and that’s why they must be avoided. Offering plain foods with flavour added by the use of fresh herbs and spices is a better way to broaden your child’s palate.
5. Feeding your baby honey and syrups
Occasionally, honey can be a source of infant botulism and needs to be avoided till the age of one.
Syrups are generally high in sugar and that’s why they are a big no for babies. Common bacterial contamination is another reason to keep these foods at bay.
6. Allowing your baby to suck juices and other liquid foods
In case you are offering juice, make sure you serve it in a cup. Sucking may cause sugar to stick on teeth and cause tooth decay.
7. Avoiding the ‘Triple S’
- Keep the “Triple S” rule in mind to prevent choking hazards:
- Slippery: Whole grapes, large pieces of meats, candies and candy drops
- Small and hard: Popcorn, seeds, nuts, pretzels and raw carrots
- Sticky: Peanut butter and other nut butters
Finally, as a rule-of-thumb, babies should be given natural foods that are suitable for their consumption. Together with natural foods, Cerelac can enhance your little one’s nutritional intake, boosting your baby’s healthy growth and development.
Cerelac provides your baby with:
- More than 50% of daily iron intake: Your little one needs iron for healthy brain development. The Health Promotion Board has recommended that babies between the age of 7 to 12 months can consume up to 7 milligrams of iron. One serving of Cerelac provides them with 5 milligrams of iron.
- Essential vitamins and minerals: Various types of Vitamins like A, B, C, D, E and K as well as minerals like iron, zinc, iodine and calcium are essential for your baby’s healthy growth and development.
- Omega 3: Important types of polyunsaturated fat are crucial to the healthy growth of babies.
Furthermore, the ingredients used to make Cerelac are specially grown for babies and are available in 11 varieties. So you can still allow your little one to explore a variety of tastes and textures.
Moms, we hope you’ve found this information useful as you embark on the exciting journey of introducing solids to your baby. One final tip: remember to make mealtimes fun!
Note: This product is not suitable as a breastmilk substitute. Infants 6 months onwards should be given fresh and indigenous foods in combination with continuous breastfeeding.