When to start weaning your baby off milk (whether breast milk or formula) and start introducing solid food in his diet is one of the many parenting issues mums and dads face. Unfortunately, there isn’t a hard and fast rule on this – no one can say “when your baby is three, you can introduce solid food” – it just happens, when your baby is ready for it. Now how do you know when baby is getting tired of liquids and wants to try something new? When your baby starts exhibiting most of the following, you can start polishing off the silverware because you’ll be using them soon!
- Your baby can now keep his head in a steady, upright position.
- Your baby no longer uses his tongue to push food out of his mouth.
- Your baby can sit upright unsupported.
- Your baby should be able to move food to the back of his mouth and swallow, often characterised by less drooling.
- When your baby has doubled his birth weight and is at least 4 months old.
- When your baby is always hungry (exhibits a growing appetite) – even after feedings of breast milk or formula.
- When your baby shows an interest in what you’re eating by looking at your food or reaching for whatever it is you’re eating.
When you’re introducing your baby to the wonders of solid food, do it one at a time and wait at least three days before the introduction of a new taste. The reason for this is you want to be able to assess what food items your baby is allergic to (imagine if your baby develops a rash, or a swollen face and you have fed him a variety of solids – how will you determine which food item is the culprit?). If you and your spouse have a history of allergies, stay away from allergenic foods such as soy, milk, eggs, wheat, fish and nuts.
When you’re transitioning from milk to solids, do so gradually so your baby will have time to get accustomed to the new taste and the new texture. The preferred sequence would be to move from milk to pureed or semi-liquid food; then on to strained or mashed food; and then finally to small pieces of finger foods.
If you’re at a loss at how to prepare pureed food for your baby, here’s a quick video which you might find interesting. Making baby food may seem like an “extra chore” but remember that home-made baby food is much better than store bought ones.