Starting solids and breastfeeding
Breast milk should be baby’s primary source of nutrition for the first year, your breastfeeding pattern must not be altered at all when starting solid foods. Baby will need this extra nutrition as he gets older so don’t worry about overfeeding him.
The main goal for the next six months before baby turns one is to get him familiar with different textures and tastes, the main source of nutrition should still be breast milk. In the beginning it’s perfectly okay if baby only eats a tsp of food at a time.
Sometimes when moms start introducing solids, they become confused about when to breastfeed. They should continue to breastfeed as per usual and just add small meals or snacks in-between breastfeeding sessions.
After one year, if mom is still breastfeeding she can give baby solid foods as the main source of nutrition and add breastfeeding as a “snack” during the day.
- Introduce solids at six months while continuing to nurse
- Introduce baby food that is of high nutritional value
- Prepare food safely to reduce the incidence of food poisoning
- Give baby food that is prepared at an appropriate texture and amount according to age.
6-8 months can be given a small meal twice daily, 9-11 months can be given a small meal three to four times daily and those between 12-24 months can be given an extra snack or two during the day. This is added with breast milk as the primary source of nutrition in the diet.
Breastfeed first or give solid food first?
Moms who breastfeed first and then feed baby other food find that their babies wean later than those who let baby eat solid food first and then breastfeed.
It’s best to offer baby solid foods an hour or so after breastfeeding. This is so that baby doesn’t take in less breast milk.
Interesting facts about starting baby on solid food
- Breastfed babies digest solid foods much easier than formula fed babies, since that the enzymes in milk help digest starch, fat and proteins.
- Breastfed babies take to solid foods easier sometimes because they already recognize some flavors of food through mom’s breast milk. They are, therefore, less likely to become picky eaters.
Which foods to start off with?
- Start with foods that are plain (without spices)
- You can give baby any foods…there is no specific order. Some popular foods to start baby on include: Banana, peaches, carrots, pears, squash, avocado and rice cereal.
- Some moms like starting with rice cereal then soft things like smashed banana and finally offer meat and vegetables.
- A baby that is under six months old can be given food that is pureed, but when you think baby is ready you can start giving him finger foods like pieces of fruit, rusks, toast.
- You do not need to buy expensive baby foods or cereals, you can give baby whatever you have made for breakfast, lunch and dinner (just pureed if necessary)
- Try to introduce as many different types of foods as possible. If baby doesn’t like something, you can always try it again later.
- By eight months of age you can make sure that baby has a combination of fruits, vegetables, meat, milk and iron fortified cereal in his daily diet.
starting solids 4 months / starting solids - introducing solid foods
Signs that baby is ready to start solids
- Baby can keep food in his mouth without pushing it out with his tongue
- Baby is at least 4 months old, but preferably 6 months.
- Baby still seems hungry even after 8 – 12 breast feedings per day. This may just be a growth spurt which should go away after about a week.
- Baby seems interested in the food on your plate.
- Baby starts imitating you by opening his mouth wide while you are eating.
- Baby can sit up right on his own.
- Highchair, plastic spoons and dishes, bibs and a sippy cup.
- Baby food grinder if you are making your own baby food.
What if baby is refusing solids?
Some babies take longer to adapt to eating solids, sometimes it’s their own little body’s way of protecting itself until the digestive tract is ready.
Don’t worry about this too much, if baby is still growing well and breastfeeding well…baby will get accustomed to the solids in his own time. All you have to do is continue to offer a variety of foods , if he doesn’t want it you do not need to force feed.
Why wait until six months before starting your baby on solids?
- Baby’s intestines only start maturing between 4 and 6 months.
- Babies younger than four months still have a tongue-thrust reflex, which makes it difficult for them to keep food in their mouths and to swallow.
- Babies only learn to sit up from five months onward.
- Baby only gets teeth for chewing from about 4 months, some only after six or seven months.
Signs that a food is not agreeing with baby’s tummy
- Flatulence (gassiness)
- A red rash on baby’s face or bottom
- Diarrhea or explosive, frothy stools
- Extra fussiness
- Increase in spitting up (vomiting)
How to entice baby to eat
- Take a bite of the food and make a fuss on how much you like it.
- Feed baby when his awake, alert and in a good mood.
- Allow baby to feed himself, sometimes this can encourage baby to eat more, this can get messy, but it’s worth it if he is eating.
- Add some of your breast milk to the food that you are offering baby, the food will taste more familiar…increasing it's appeal
- Allow baby to eat with you when you eat.
- Offer baby finger foods.
Baby first foods ideas
- Protein: Chopped up meat or minced beef, fish (without bones) or fish fingers, cheese, scrambled eggs, yogurt, custard, boiled eggs, small sausages
- Starch: Pasta, rice, rusks, bread, oats, crackers.
- Veg and fruit: Mushy peas, thick smooth soups, backed sweet potato or pumpkin, stir fried baby marrow, watermelon, mango, grapes (seedless), raisins or dried fruit.
- Read more on baby foods to avoid at www.homemade-baby-food-recipes.com
Moms who want to start feeding solids at 4 months
Sometimes mom might feel that baby is ready for solids at 4 months because baby might start demanding more breast milk. This is usually due to a growth spurt. Mom should try breastfeeding as often as baby needs, it is not necessary to start introducing solid foods yet. A growth spurt will usually only last about a week…after this baby will start to feed as usual again.
Some babies may start grabbing at food on plates from about 4 months, you can start to give baby some food, but remember that your milk supply may drop a bit if baby starts to breastfeed less.
Also the sooner you introduce other foods the sooner baby is likely to wean himself and the sooner your period is going to return.
Warnings when introducing solid food
- Starting solids constipation ~ Don’t replace nursing with food too quickly as this might cause baby to become constipated.
- Baby’s stools will start to change with feeding baby solid food. Read more on baby poop after starting solids
- Starting solid food will usually cause baby to drink less breast milk, therefore causing a decrease in moms milk supply and a return of fertility.
- Always offer baby new foods in the morning, this will give you some time during the day to see if the food agrees with his tummy, instead of having to wake up at night with a colicky baby.
- Some babies may be allergic to fish or eggs.
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breastfeeding with intro to solids
my breastfed baby just started solids, do they need to eat solids everyday?
INCREDIBLY helpful! Not rated yet
Wow, this article was INCREDIBLY helpful! I was going to start solids at 4 months (which is in 2 weeks), but decided to try and wait until 6 months after …
Breastfeeding Mom Not rated yet
This is very helpful. Thank you for all the great information.
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Hi, what kind of food is to be given for a 6th month old baby girl...