Understanding the importance of solid food for babies

Understanding baby food stages and introducing solid foods is extremely vital for parents. Learning the mechanics of taking solid food from a spoon, then chewing and transferring it from the front of the tongue to the back of the mouth and then swallowing takes time and lots of practice. At first, your baby will spit it out but you shouldn’t panic. This is because babies have more sensitive taste buds than adults. Even the most subtle flavors can seem quite strong to a young baby’s taste bud. Breast milk or formula contains all the important nutrients babies need for their body and brain to grow and develop in their first six months. Post this, iron and zinc stores start to deplete and need boosting through additional dietary intake. Hence the introduction of solid baby food plays an important part in your baby’s development.

The timing of introducing solid healthy baby food can be confusing for first-time parents. There are several readiness signs which babies show when they are ready to ingest more than just milk. Signs like when your baby can hold their head steady has some upper body control and is able to sit upright or when they are showing interest in what is going on around them, particularly when they observe you eating and they’re keen to do the same. Also, be on the watch out for signs like when their tongue-thrust reflex is not so obvious. This is a sign that they’re ready to stop automatically pushing food back out of their mouth and are ready to chew and swallow. There are no hard and fast rules about introducing solid foods to your baby other than taking it slowly and being sensitive to your baby’s responses. You can start by offering them one new food at a time. If they have any problems or reactions to a particular food then it is easier to identify which one it is likely to be and avoid them in the future. It is important to be sensitive to the cues or prompts your baby will give when you are feeding them which means they have had enough to eat. Completely ignoring these signals can lead to overfeeding. Signs of fullness includes: turning away from the spoon while feeding them, closing their mouth and not opening it in anticipation of the next spoon, becoming upset, crying and restless when previously they have been interested in eating and engaged, vomiting, gagging or appearing sleepy.