You and your child are finally in a breastfeeding groove. Suddenly, the baby may seem unsatisfied by the breastmilk you’ve been providing him or her and your friends are wondering when you’ll start transitioning solid foods into your child’s diet. The path to a more independent baby may seem uncertain, but with proper timing and techniques, your bundle of joy’s transition to solid food can be painless and even fun.
WHEN ARE THEY READY?
Many new mothers turn to the experts to determine their child’s readiness to transition to solid food. However, there is a bit of controversy among professionals surrounding the proper timeline for babies to begin eating solids. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) breastfeeding guidelines specifically state babies should be exclusively breastfed until six months old. However, in the AAP’s pediatrician guidelines, the recommended transition start time is around four to six months.
Regardless, you should never rely solely on your child’s age to make this determination. Every baby is different and may set their own pace for development. There are several physical signs that may indicate your baby is ready for solid food, including:
- Sitting up on his or her own (including head control)
- An eagerness to be involved in mealtimes
- Loss of the extrusion reflex (the tendency to push food out of his or her mouth)
- Weight gain
- Development of the pincer grasp (using the thumb and forefinger to pick things up)
Even if your baby has developed all these signs of readiness, consult your pediatrician for his or her professional opinion.
DO I CHANGE THEIR SCHEDULE?
Up until solid foods, most mothers are simply feeding their babies on the child’s schedule. Many pediatricians recommend on-demand feeding to allow the baby to develop an understanding of hunger and fullness. However, once solid food is incorporated into the diet, the baby should be transitioned to a more regimented meal and snack schedule. This assists in developing your child’s appetite. Feed your baby a snack or meal every three or four hours with only water in between to ensure your baby is eating well at mealtimes.
WHAT KIND OF FOODS SHOULD I INTRODUCE?
Whether you make your puree at home or buy it from the store, your child should receive a wide variety of flavors to ensure they don’t grow up a picky eater. Vegetables and fruits are excellent starters, but nuts, meats and eggs can be beneficial to introduce early as well to prevent the risk of allergies. Nevertheless, vary your baby’s intake of different foods and allow five days before using a different puree to monitor for any allergic reactions. If your family has a history of food allergies, be sure to talk to your pediatrician about precautions you can take to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
GIVING YOUR BABY THE BEST START
Transitioning from breastmilk to solid food doesn’t have to be a headache with Portland Pediatrics! Allow our team of experienced pediatricians to walk you through the steps to raising a healthy, happy baby. To learn more about transitioning your baby to solid food, contact us online or call the Irondequoit office at 585-342-5665 or Webster office at 585-872-3390