This is an exciting time for parents, the time to start feeding your baby some food. And whether you decide to go the traditional route with purees or the baby-led weaning route, there are a few things you should consider first.
You may wonder if your baby is ready for this milestone. It’s important to wait until he is showing the appropriate signs since rushing into it could lead to some issues.
It’s been shown that starting solids too early can lead to digestive problems or allergies as your child gets older. But, waiting too long can also have some complications; around the 6 month mark is when iron supplies start to diminish and breastmilk or formula can’t quite accommodate this need. Therefor waiting too long to introduce solids can lead to anemia.
So what are signs that your little one is ready? You can start looking for these signs around the 5 or 6 month mark.
-Good head and neck control when sitting upright.
-Doubled their birth weight
-Showing interest in food when you are eating
-Ability to show signs of being full (turning head away)
-Loss of tongue-thrust reflex (pushing the tongue forward)
So now that your baby is ready, what should you feed him? Well it makes sense to focus on iron rich food as it is the nutrient that is starting to deplete.
Baby cereal is often common as a first food since it is enriched with iron but it may not always be the best option. This baby cereal can be harder to digest, as are grains in general since your baby’s digestive tract may not have the enzymes necessary to digest it. So just keep in mind, if you are choosing cereal as a first food for your baby and he is spitting up more than normal, you may want to scale back on the cereal for a little while.
Besides, there are plenty of other options that are a great source of iron and easier to digest like meat, poultry and fish. Egg yolks, greens (spinack, kale, chard), broccoli, tofu, prunes and sweet potatoes are also good sources.
If you are using the baby-led weaning technique to feed your baby, just be aware that foods higher in iron (meats and greens) can be harder for your little one to eat at this stage so you may need to supplement with some purees.
And remember, at this stage, breastmilk or formula should still be the main source of nutrition. Try lots of flavours and textures and don’t stress if your little one is turning down some items. Just try again some other day!