Before speaking about the rules of introduction finger and solid food into your baby’s diet, let’s first discuss some particularities of child’s body as he grows.
It is desirable to breastfeed as long as possible – up to one year of age, and if it is possible – a few months more. Unique biological properties of your milk are useful for the baby even at this age. But solely lactic period of life, when the breastmilk meets all baby’s nutritive and energy needs, lasts for no longer than 4.5-5 months. Before this age kids grow significantly, their body weight is doubled, physical activity is increased and thus their body energy expenditure is increased.
Solely diary foods can no longer meet baby’s needs. From this age, children need additional feeding – finger and solid food. Changes are in the child’s body as well – the digestive system becomes more mature, able to digest and absorb not only liquid diary food, but also solid one. And in 2-3 months the first and then the rest baby’s teeth appear, so, first, the skill to grind food is being gradually developed and then the one to swallow it.
How to introduce finger and solid food
Introduction of any solid food are the first steps in baby’s transition to qualitatively new nutrition, to which he needs to accustom. These steps must be done carefully, patiently, slowly, in order to avoid unwanted reactions, complications and even child’s unwillingness to accept new food that is different from the smell, taste and consistency of the breast milk.
Finger and solid food should be introduced gradually
In the previous article about baby nutrition I wrote that baby should be breastfed, bottle fed or mixed fed until the appearance of the first teeth (that is the sign that he can already eat something new). But there are exceptions to this rule: you can introduce new food into the baby’s diet earlier if he gains weight badly, if he suffers from diarrhea, if he is solely bottlefed. If you decided to feed baby new food, first, you need to consult with your pediatrician and second, you need to know the list of the food to avoid not to let allergies appear in your baby. These are: the foods containing gluten, eggs, cheese, diary products (babies often have allergy to cow’s milk), fish and seafood. In any case consult first the doctor, he will tell you more and will develop a diet according to your baby’s needs and peculiarities.
I will give you now just a rough plan of introduction finger and solid foods before the baby is 6 months of age.
At the age of 3-3.5 months solids are introduced in the form of fruit, berry or vegetable juice, and in 1.5-2 weeks, if the child has no any adverse reactions, the following food is introduced – fruit or berry puree without small stones and lumps. Then denser foods are introduced into the diet: the first one – from 4-4.5 months, the second one – from 5-5.5 months, and the third one – from 7-8 months of age.
Gradually, all kinds of foods are introduced: cheese, egg yolk, vegetable oil, butter, cream, meat and fish puree, bread, crackers, cookies.
When introducing new products to the baby’s diet his state of health, appetite, body weight, apparent or potential (family) allergic reactions to these or other products, body’s propensity to digestive system violations (regurgitation, bloating, abdominal colic), the frequency and the nature of poop are considered. Therefore, feeding program may change somewhat, but keeping food usefulness.
It’s also important to emphasize that it is very important to support mother’s lactation for her to breastfeed the baby as long as possible. Therefore, if a nursing mother eats well and her diet contains enough fresh fruit and vegetables, her child will develop well up to 4-5 months of age without any solid foods (juices and purees).
At the end I would like to say that children have great fun when eating with fingers, this process is a kind of a game for them. And moreover this helps develop baby’s fine motor skills and coordination. Of course this process will be very messy but let your little one fully enjoy it.
In the next article I will share tips on how to make finger and solid food on your own at home.