Feeding Solid Food to Baby
He isn’t sleeping through the night, maybe he needs solid foods, when and what do I give my bundle of joy? The answer to this question is not set in stone. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting an iron fortified infant cereal preferentially around 5 -6 months old and then progressing to vegetable and fruits and delaying meats and protein foods until an infant is 7-8 months old. If you are breast feeding, breast milk is sufficient until 6 months of age as long as your baby is growing and developing normally.
Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC, suggests that the best time to introduce solids is when the baby is showing interest in starting. Some babies will become very interested in the food on their parent’s plates as early as 4 months. Go by the baby’s cues. The breastfed baby digests solid foods better and earlier than the artificially fed baby because breast milk contains enzymes which help digest fats, proteins and starch. As well, breastfed babies have had a wider variety of tastes in their lives, since the flavors of many foods the mother eats will pass into her milk. So, he doesn’t believe that there is a difference what order foods are introduced. It is prudent to avoid highly spiced or highly allergenic foods at first (e.g. egg white, strawberries), but if baby reaches for the soft potato on your plate, make sure it is not too hot, and let him have it. Most foods can be mashed and puree is not necessary. Your child’s teeth development will determine when he can bite and chew food. A speech pathologist also evaluates a child that is not properly sucking, chewing or swallowing his food. This can be the result of muscle weakness, coordination difficulties or the timing of the swallow reflex.
In the next newsletter I will talk about the different foods and how you can use them to not only increase your child’s desire for different food flavors, but also to include the sense of smell and taste to enhance language concepts.
*Always discuss with your pediatrician or health care provider about your baby’s nutrition if you have questions or concerns.