A New Parents’ Guide to Starting Solids for Children

HEALTH & NUTRITION

How do you know if it’s time to start your child on solids apart from drinking breastmilk or formula? For first-time parents, feeding your child is only as hard as you imagine it to be. It can be as easy as A-B- C with the right knowledge.

First, a little checklist:

Signs that your child is ready to eat solid food:

  1. They are at least six months old.
  2. They start noticing and looking at you eat your own food.
  3. They smack their lips and tongue when looking at solid food.
  4. They reach for actual food.
  5. They can sit upright unsupported.
  6. They have lost their tongue-thrust reflex.

Some parents and doctors allow kids as early as four months old to consume solid food, but this is recommended on a case-to- case basis. At the end of the day, the best person to determine if your baby should start eating solid food earlier would be your child’s paediatrician.

What you should remember about feeding your child their first solid food

Their feeding habits and how you introduce food to them in the early years build the foundation for their eating habits and preferences.

Luckily, it’s easy to get them interested in food and textures if you know how. Here are some things to
remember:

1. It’s going to get messy.

Expecting clean mealtimes are not part of the equation. Your child is going to grab, dunk, mix, mash and spit up food. It’s normal and part of them learning how to eat and exploring the new journey.

2. Keep everything clean.

Whether you choose to have your kid eat from a plate, with utensils or on the surface of their high chair or the table, everything should be sterilised and cleaned before offering your little one.

3. Follow your child’s lead and comfort level.

Like adults, baby’s moods may differ from day-to- day, or even within the same day. If he’s not in the mood to eat, clean up and try again later.

4. Always ensure adult supervision

The transition to solid food can be smooth like a baby’s bottom.

An adult should always be with your child during mealtimes. Some parents prefer feeding their child while others may wish to embark on Baby-led Weaning, so baby eats independently. Do what works for your child and family, and remember safety first!

5. Have fun.

A happy disposition and lively time during meals can help your child identify the dining table and meals as a great experience.

So, what can you feed your little one?

Besides instant cereal, make it a point to use fresh ingredients. For the sake of your baby’s intestinal health, ensure food safety during meal preparation and offer fully cooked food to your child to prevent the risk of contamination.

You can puree the following vegetables in a blender or boil them in water before mashing them:
1. Carrots
2. Pears
3. Apples
4. Potatoes
5. Squash
6. Sweet potatoes

You can also shred or cut them into small bite-sized pieces and have your baby pick them up from a plate:
1. Soft, white bread
7. Boiled chicken
8. Boiled soft fish

Babies under one-year- old are not ready for intense flavours or spices as these may tax their digestive

What if my child doesn’t want to eat?

Naturally, there would be concerns about picky eating. While we suggest holding off the ‘picky eater’ label until your baby is a bit older, here are some things to do if your child doesn’t like to eat the food you’ve served:
1. Don’t force them to eat if they refuse.
2. If they don’t like a particular food, try feeding it the next day, or even the following week. Your baby’s taste buds could be developing and what didn’t work last week could work the next.
3. Keep the meals frequent but small. Ration approximately a tablespoon or two of food each time.
4. Offer cooled boiled water to drink after each meal.
5. Don’t hold off on the milk—this is where they still get the most nutrients.
6. Be mindful of allergies or conditions (such as G6PD deficiency) that would require a special diet.
7. Do not put your child on a special diet unless your paediatrician says so.
8. Watch for signs of allergic reaction such as hives, breathing difficulties, itching and extreme irritability when introducing new food. Go to the emergency room immediately if you think your child is having a first allergic reaction.

Have fun nourishing your children with a good balance of essential nutrients. After all, eating well is one step towards raising world-ready children!

How was your experience when you first introduced solids to your child? Do share them below!

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