First bites:  Introducing solids to babies

solids to babies

World Health Organization recommends ‘Exclusive breastfeeding’ for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

Baby’s readiness to solids depends on the maturity of its digestive system. One cannot predict this gut maturity in an obvious kind of way. Research suggests that most of the babies are ready for solids at about 6 months of age. Solids should always compliment the breastfeeding or formula feeding and should not replace it.

Why wait till 6 months?

  • Six months of exclusive breast feeding protects child from pathogens at a vulnerable age
  • Research suggests that baby’s digestive system is fully matured at 6 months to accept solids
  • Baby’s needs for nutrients increases along with growth spurt at 6 months
  • Baby can hold neck firmly and sit without support approximately at 6 months
  • Baby is in position to take food from spoon and gulp it rather than throwing outside by tongue
  • Very often you shall notice that baby is quite inquisitive of food kept in your plate and is eager to grab it.

These evidences suggest that your baby is ready for solids.

How to go about it?

Lots and lots of patience, observation and perseverance will let you understand your baby’s taste buds. Babies act the naughtiest and craziest while eating food. You may be surprised to see your baby totally loving solid or may be rejecting it all together at the first stance. She might also make funny faces when tasting something new for the first time. Enjoy it!! Click it!! Preserve the moment!! Keep the following in mind.

  • Start the day with breast milk/formula and not with new food. Similarly end the day with breast milk or formula and not by new food.
  • Clean utensils plus clean hands. Use bowl and spoon.
  • Introduce solids one at a time. Follow 3 day rule. When you introduce a new thing, continue for at least 3 days. Do not add the second food before 3 days. Look for any serious reactions like rash or swelling depicting food allergy.
  • Make the child eat in day time. Avoid anything new at late evenings or night. Anything new in tummy may trouble the baby’s sleep at night.
  • Introduce when the child is least cranky. Do not think that baby will accept new food when she is hungry. No she won’t. When she is hungry she will always look for mom’s milk or formula and reject new food all together.

What to start with?

Do not literally go by the word ‘solid’. Here ‘Solids’ are referred to as introducing anything apart from breast milk/formula to the child in the form of liquids or puree. So remember at this point do not give anything that is solid/hard in nature. Baby should do quite well with the food that is readily available in each household.

Dal water (Yellow moong dhuli dal in Hindi): Split Green Gram or Moong Dhuli Dal water is extremely easy to make and introduce plus a rich source of protein. My personal experience says that this dal water never fails. It is the easiest food to digest. Do not add any turmeric or salt for baby. Remove the standing water after dal in done in pressure cooker for the baby. Rest of the dal can be used by family.

Rice Water: Cook rice as usual but with 3-4 times water. When rice is cooked, again remove the standing water from the vessel and give to your baby. It is a rich source of carbohydrates and vitamin B

Mashed Banana: Try introducing 1/3rd of banana to your baby in mashed form. One can also add some breast milk or formula to make it look like a porridge. Do not add sugar. Avoid pulp on first day. Subsequently little pulp should be fine.

Thin Curd: Stir the fresh curd till thin, can add little milk to make it thin. And give 3-4 spoons to the baby

Introduce each of above food for 3 continuous days before shifting to next. Follow this regime for 2 weeks. By third week one can introduce second small meal to baby’s diet.

Apple /Carrot puree: Wash-Peel-boil till soft-Blend and introduce. Do not give in raw form.

Papaya extract: Mash few slices of papaya. Introduce the juice that has come out. Baby might not take the pulp easily.

Mashed Potato: By week 4, one can introduce mashed potato.

A few more tips:

Have patience, do not rush. Good food habits for home cooked meals will go a long way. Do not loose temper on baby. It’s new world for her. Appreciate every small step that baby takes towards achieving next milestone. And yeah!! Do share your story in comments below.

I am a doctor and a public health specialist from Delhi. I have expertise in Obstetrics & Gynecology, child health and vaccinations. Formerly I worked with WHO’s immunization program in rural India as a technical consultant. I believe that accurate and relevant health information is the key to positive behavioral change subsequently leading to good health. I am an ardent traveler and a passionate writer.


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