Is your little one ready for adult food? Here are some important tips about starting solids!
Introducing solids to your baby is one of the most exciting milestones in your child’s first year. From the joy of experiencing your baby’s facial expression the first time he or she gets a taste of adult food to being careful with food allergies, as parents, there’s a heavy load of information to comprehend about this topic.
How do you know when your child is ready to start on solids? Will it be worth splurging on the fancy kitchen gadgets and accessories for this journey?
We highlight four important points every parent should know before starting your child on solids.
#1 Puree is not the only option
You see it in commercials and movies. When babies are fed solids, its typically served in the form of puree. Parents will be required to feed their child and in the event the child doesn’t seem interested, mom or dad will have to fascinate their child by making airplane sounds to encourage baby to open their mouth. As a matter of fact, this method is common that there are airplane-shaped spoons sold in baby stores! This method mainly puts the parent in charge of the weaning process.
In recent years, a new weaning method known as ‘Baby-led Weaning’ (BLW) has become popular. As the name suggests, BLW allows the baby to take charge instead. As early as six months, BLW encourages children to feed themselves with food that have been safely prepared. This method skips spoon-feeding purees entirely. It is believed that BLW encourages the growth of an adventurous eater as a child is allowed to explore food using their senses such as touch, smell and taste. On top of that, BLW teaches a child to eat according to their needs. For example, there are cues to look out for if the baby is full. This is unlike spoon- feeding a child whereby one would typically ensure that the child finishes their food till the last drop.
Of course, choking might be a concern for some parents. As much as studies have shown that BLW does not increase the risk of choking among children, parents should equip themselves with knowledge on steps to take in the event your baby is choking. This is helpful not only for babies starting on the BLW journey but for those enjoying purees too.
#2 Beware of choking hazards
Any food can turn into a choking hazard if it’s not prepared safely for baby to enjoy. There are some steps that you can take to ensure that your child enjoys his or her food safely. They include:
PREPARATION: Prepare food that are in the right shape, size and texture, in accordance to your child’s developmental stage. For example for children on a BLW journey, serving carrots to a 6 month old should be served grated and babies over 9 months old may be served cooked carrot sticks.
TEXTURE: Avoid foods that are sticky and hard. A good way to gauge is to serve food that are soft enough to be mashed by your fingers. This way, you’ll know that baby will be able to mash the food with their gums.
POSTURE: Have your child sit up straight while eating and on a high chair. Avoid letting your child eat when lying down, in the stroller or crawling.
ENVIRONMENT: Avoid distractions during mealtimes. Meals for all should be enjoyed in a calm environment.
ATTENTION: Never leave your child unattended during mealtimes. Always pay close attention to your child and watch the items that go into your child’s mouth.
#3 Any child can experience food allergies
Babies need a variety of food in their diet. Every ingredient is a unique source of nutrients but unfortunately some of them are commonly known to cause allergies. Any child can develop food allergies, including those who do not have a family history of it. As parents, it may be a little nerve-wracking as you would not know about an allergy until a reaction happens. Do be alert especially when introducing new food to your baby. Some common allergy reactions include:
- Feeling unsettled.
- Difficulty breathing and becomes pale (this is a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Immediate medical help will be required).
WRITER’S NOTE: The first time I fed my child eggs at about seven months old, he developed an allergy reaction. Knowing that my husband and I are not allergic to any type of food, I assumed that he would be safe from allergies too. Unfortunately, he swelled up and we had to bring him to the Emergency Department. That shocked me and I was very careful with introducing new food. My child’s paediatrician was very encouraging and taught us to try reintroducing eggs to him after 12 months old. Thankfully, he is now able to accept eggs as part of his diet. This goes to show that an allergic reaction can happen to any child and it is important to speak to your child’s pediatrician about it.
Do note that this is not a form of medical advice and for information pertaining to managing food allergies, seek advice from a medical expert.
#4 Fancy gadgets may not be for everyone
Baby blenders, steamers, reusable baby food pouches and so on. These products are commonly marketed to help with a child’s weaning journey. However, they can be costly and there are times when parents make a purchase but regret it after. The best way to ensure that your money is well spent is to evaluate the usefulness of the product in your household.
For example, if you’ve chosen the BLW route, you may not need a steamer and blender as you’ll be serving pieces of food to your child. On the other hand, this kitchen tool could be useful for households that have chosen the conventional method for weaning.
All in all, starting solids is an exciting journey not only for your child but for parents too. During this journey, it’s important to stay calm, expect it to be messy but be rest assured that it’ll all be worth it as it helps your child to develop healthily.
Any child can develop food allergies, including those who do not have a family history of it.