Some babies have no problem starting complementary foods, switching from jarred puree to finger foods. Other babies will spit out the puree and then refuse to eat food they have to chew.
All babies perceive the transition to adult foods differently. Solid food in many of them causes rejection and, as a consequence, crankiness at the table. So how can you help your baby cope?
When to start introducing solid foods
One of the goals of transitioning to solids is to teach a child to distinguish between hunger and satiety, which helps to establish healthy eating habits in early childhood.
It is commonly believed that most babies are ready to be introduced to solid foods at 5-6 months. In fact, age is not the main factor in the development of chewing skills. You should follow the advice of your pediatrician, who knows best about your baby's health status and developmental features. The baby should be ready for the introduction of solid food both physically (be able to actively work with the tongue and correctly press it to the palate) and psychologically: the child should “wake up” interest in food and desire to look at the parents' plate and try what adults are eating.
You will need more time to introduce complementary foods to work well for your baby. Yes, the baby gets everything she or he needs from breast milk or formula, but we must remember that by 4-6 months, the baby's need for nutrients increases significantly. And it is time for the baby to learn to chew solid food and learn more about the world of tastes.
Experts agree that there are no clear time limits because every child develops at his or her own pace.
What problems can parents face when introducing new foods or changing products?
The problems are always the same – the baby does not want to eat and turns away from the spoon. If the product does not suit the body, there are digestive disorders, shown by diarrhea or constipation, bloating, and regurgitation. Also, an adverse reaction during the introduction of solid foods is allergy.
Any new product or new baby formula is stressful for the baby's body and the GI tract. So the baby needs time to adapt – so it is recommended to start with half a teaspoon and gradually increase the volume over a week. Taking a large amount of food at once or changing from one product to another can lead to a breakdown in digestion and worsen the baby's well-being.
The right way to transition your baby to solid foods
- Getting a baby used to solid food requires patience and creativity from parents. Always talk about what the product tastes like, consistency, and color.
- A personal example works well for a baby. Before feeding, try the food and emotionally show how good it tastes. Attempt to feed your baby at family dinners so that he feels involved and copies what the rest of the family is doing.
- Using bright, beautiful tableware is important to arouse the baby's interest.
- When introducing food in small pieces, let your baby take the initiative, explore, and enjoy discovering new things.
- Offer your baby different foods that can easily be picked up and eaten with his or her hands.
- Never press a child to eat; otherwise, you will reinforce a negative attitude toward solid food.
Learning new skills takes time
If you break down the entire eating process into separate steps, it becomes clear what a complex process it is and how difficult it is for a child to put all the various skills into one whole. First, babies push food out of their mouths with their tongues. That is the so-called extrusion reflex. It works well for breastfeeding because it helps to get the milk off the breast. But it must be weaned off in order to start eating solid foods.
The very sensation of solid food in your baby's mouth feels strange, and many even find it unpleasant. If your baby used to choke on food, he or she is now stressed by the sight of a spoon full of food, which makes it even more difficult.
One of the best options for transitioning to solids is various organic baby foods such as purees and healthy snacks offered by Organic's Best, which will introduce the baby to new flavors and textures and help stimulate chewing skills due to the pieces of fruits and vegetables.
The transition to new foods is an exciting stage of the development and maturation of babies. And compliance with simple tips and recommendations will help you to make this process comfortable and safe for the child.