Your baby is growing up and it’s almost time to commence solid food. Faced with the prospect of introducing solid food to your precious little one, you wonder are you ready? Sometimes introducing solid food to your little angel can be overpowering especially if you have been fed with conflicting information on how to go about it! When you introduce solid foods correctly, you instill healthy eating habits in your baby. Below are eight mistakes you should avoid when starting solid food:
1.Starting too soon
A good number of parents believe that giving a baby solid foods will help her have a good sleep at night which is not true, a factor that makes some parents introduce solid foods like cereals before six months. The World Health Organization recommends that you should wait until six months before commencing on solid foods which again is misinterpreted by some parents as an excuse to give purees before six months as it is “less” solid.
So what is solid food?
It is any food other than breast milk or formula. Before your baby reaches six months, her immune system and stomach is not ready to digest solid food and protect itself from possible allergic substances. Therefore feeding your baby solid food before six months will expose her to a gastrointestinal infection, food allergy, celiac disease, eczema, excessive weight gain and constipation.
2.Waiting too long before starting solid foods
The fear of your little angel having an allergic reaction or choking is enough to make any parent procrastinate. But not giving your baby any solid food after six months is counterproductive:
It will slow down your baby’s growth
Your baby may experience lump consistency at nine months and other feeding problems by seven years of age.
There is a risk of iron deficiency and the slow development of psychomotor skills.
The following cognitive signs will indicate your baby is ready for solid food at six months:
- Visual anticipation when you move a spoon towards her mouth.
- Recognizing the feeding bottle at first sight.
- Positive tilt when placed in a feeding chair and a feeding bottle is placed in front of her.
- Displays interest when you are reaching for food or eating.
If you feel like waiting after six months are over, you can talk to your doctor and you will get proper advice on the best time to start.
3.Feeding your baby bland food
Maybe someone whispered to you that bland food is excellent for your little one because it is easily eaten and digested. But pediatric studies have shown that giving your baby different flavors will encourage him to consume various foods and decrease pickiness. As you go through the process of introducing solid foods to your baby be a little adventurous and improve the flavor through addition of spices, aromatics and herbs. Homemade baby foods are a good option. You may consider baking, or steaming your baby’s food so as to retain its natural nutrients. Little Angels provides tips on how to go about this process.
4. Excluding vital nutrients
Some nutrients are critical for the growth of your baby’s body and brain: vitamin D, Iron, Omega-3, zinc, and total fat. Excluding foods like fat, beef (that is rich in iron) and iron-fortified cereals from your baby’s diet will negatively affect the growth and development of your baby. Give a balanced diet to ensure all iron and fat requirements are met. The foods to include for iron sufficiency can be spinach, meat, egg yolk, and iron-fortified cereals. For fat requirements include olive oil and avocado.
5. Not feeding your baby at the family table
Most parents make this mistake because it seems efficient feeding your baby before or after the family meal. But feeding time should be fun and soothing for your baby and there is no better place for the baby to learn social skills of eating than at the family table. If you feed your baby away from the family table, she misses out the chance to learn. Avoid urging during meal times so as to provide a calm atmosphere.
6. Ensuring your baby remains immaculate while feeding her/him
Feeding your little one is always bound to be messy. You may try to wipe your baby’s face after each bite, resort to spoon feeding or clean her plate frequently but it is a mistake. This will distract your baby and deny her the opportunity of learning when full interaction with food is allowed. To ensure learning takes place to let your baby touch, smell, taste and play with food.
7.Force feeding and ignoring signs that your baby is satisfied
The best sign that your baby is satisfied is when she turns their head away or shakes it to indicate lack of interest. It is tempting to insist that your baby finishes her food when she stops eating. But pressurizing your baby to eat will backfire: the struggle will make your baby to associate feeding with anxiety and she may refuse to eat. Forcing your child to eat will suppress her ability to regulate their eating which will make her develop poor eating habits that are linked to weight problems. If your baby shows resistance relax and let it go: although you are in charge of making the food your baby will decide how much she can take.
8. Frequently offering sweets to your baby
Giving your baby some cookies and sweets may seem okay, however, it will have an influence on her future food preferences, health and eating habits. You baby’s stomach space is limited; therefore feeding her on sweets will leave virtually no room for food that is essential for proper nutrition. Proper dietary guidelines dictate that your baby’s diet should have no added sugar (from sweets and soft drinks) for the first two years of their life.
There are times when the process of starting solid foods for your baby will not go as expected. Although it is vital to observe consistency, fortitude and maintain a positive attitude, it is also important to know when to seek assistance especially when your baby exhibits the following signs: refuses solid food by eight months old, feeds only when she is distracted (e.g. by the TV, tablet or playing), vomits or gags frequently while feeding. You can get help from a feeding therapist, pediatrician or your state’s intervention program. By following the basics, feeding time for your baby should be an exciting and bonding process.