It’s an exciting event in baby’s development when he or she is old enough to start eating solid foods. Many parents look forward to this milestone in hopes that eating solids will give a break from breast of bottle feeding as often as well as keeping baby satisfied for a longer period of time between feedings. And although it’s not always the case, many even hope that starting solid foods will help baby sleep longer at night. Most experts agree that solid foods can be introduced anytime between four and six months of age, depending on baby’s developmental readiness. But before you go jumping into feeding baby solid foods, beware the following mistakes that are often made by well-meaning parents:
- Too soon. Although many pediatricians agree it is okay to start a baby on solid food at four months of age, this may not be best for your baby. At four months, baby may not be ready to know how to eat from a spoon a swallow, which is a totally different mechanism to eat compared to drinking from a bottle. Starting too soon will cause baby to simply spit the food out as they don’t know how to eat this way. Solid foods will also be digested much differently than what baby is used to, and the body just may not be ready to handle it yet. My husband and I tried solids with our son at four months of age after recommendation from our pediatrician, but it made his stomach extremely upset. We took him off it completely and reintroduced it at six months. Not only did he eat from a spoon better at six months, but he had no problems digesting it. So when it doubt, wait! Your baby will be just fine living off of breast milk or formula until then.
- Too much. The first time you give your baby solid food and he has no problem getting the hang of it, it can be very tempting to overfeed. After all, it’s fun watching your baby master his new skill! However, keep in mind that the first few introductions to solid food should be in very small amounts, even just a few spoonfuls. You don’t want to overdo it. Babies stomachs are not huge, and on top of that you don’t want to load them up on a new food that you’re not sure how their body is going to react to. So at the beginning, keep to small amounts of food and build your way up from there.
- Too oblivious. Any time something completely new and foreign is introduced to your baby’s body, whether it be food, vaccines, or a new shampoo, you need to pay attention! Most likely your baby won’t have any problems, but on rare occasions a bad reaction can occur. Starting a baby on solid foods can cause bad reactions and parents need to be watching for physical and behavioral changes. I am guilty of being oblivious to my son’s reaction to rice cereal when we started him on it at four months. The first few days he started on cereal, he would wake up in the middle of the night screaming. He had bad gas and constipation. Unfortunately, it took me three days to realize the cereal was causing his behavior. We took him off the cereal and he was fine. The moral of the story is pay attention! Don’t be oblivious to something that just isn’t right!
The most important key to remember is to follow your baby’s lead. You will know when they are ready for solids but you still need to remember to follow some guidelines so you don’t make some of the big mistakes. You will never regret using these three precautions when starting baby on solid foods!
What common mistakes do you think parents make when introducing solids to baby?
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