Monday, April 2, 2012

Introducing solids to your baby - Part 1

My little one just turned one recently. I started him on solids when he was 5 months old. He has been exclusively breast fed and the only reason I started him so early on solids was because he was showing a lot of interest in the food that we were eating and seemed ready for solids. His pediatrician also agreed and thus began my journey again with baby food.
I started with the baby cereals available on the market and then worked up to homemade food.
The ideas and options listed below are just a few of the choices that you can make when you and your little one start on your food journey :)



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1. Oatmeal - Generally recommended as a first grain for your baby. These are available in a variety of combinations. Try the plain oatmeal first and when you have ascertained that your baby is able to digest it well, then try the other fruit combinations.
2. Rice - Rice is also a safe option for most babies. In fact, in India, a small ceremony is held by the parents in which the baby is fed sweetened rice out of a gold ring ! This signifies that the baby is ready to start eating solid foods.
3. Barley - Barley cereal is also widely available in the markets and makes for a very good and nutritious choice for little tummies. Please note that barley falls in the same group as wheat when it comes to gluten content. So if your little one has a gluten intolerance, then please do not feed barley to your baby.
In any case, please talk to your baby's pediatrician before beginning any new food.
4. Whole Wheat - Whole wheat cereal is a good alternative for slightly older babies. It can be given plain or like I prepare it, with a couple of tablespoons of mashed fruit. Since I do not add additional salt or sugar to these prepared cereals, adding fruit definitely increases the appeal !
5. Ragi (finger millet) - This is a much beloved cereal amongst South Indians...Although I am one, I am not very familiar with this as baby food. But its very nutritious and quite filling while being digestible as well. Dissolve a couple of teaspoons of the flour in cold water and remove lumps. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens. Add a little bit of desired milk, a little sweetener and offer to your baby.
6. Mixed Grain - This is another option available in the US markets and consists of whole wheat, rice and oatmeal. Once you have made sure that your child is not allergic to any of the individual grains, you can try this blend more more nutrition.


Notes:
1.For each of the above options, I initially used breast milk and then later water or fruit purees. You could either do that or even use your formula of choice.
2.When you first start feeding your baby solids, make sure that the consistency is almost comparable to milk / formula. Your baby needs to get used to receiving the food on the tongue and then learn to push it to the back of the mouth.
3. Keep in mind that it takes a while for the baby to get used to the different taste and texture of these cereals. Start with only a tiny serving each time and then work up to larger servings.
4.Do note down any reactions / allergies that you might notice when you start a new food and discuss with your child's pediatrician. Wait for at least 4 days after you introduce a grain / cereal before you try another one.
5. My baby had a few bouts of indigestion and gas every time I tried a new cereal. I gave him extra water / breast milk and used gas drops and gripe water along with a few home remedies to prevent discomfort and constipation.

In the next post of this series, I will write about the home made options that I tried with my little one.
I would love to hear from you...when did you start your baby on solids ? What all have you tried so far and how have the two of you enjoyed the process :) 

Disclaimer: Please note that I am not in the medical professional, just a fellow parent trying to make the best decision about my children's nutrition. Please consult your child's pediatrician before you start your baby on solids.

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