Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash
Being a mom to a tiny human (read infant), one of the most critical milestones is that of "Starting Solids". This milestone is important because you are familiarizing your baby with different food items and helping your little one develop the liking for eating food as a potential source of nutrition for their life long. It is at this milestone that I have heard the most conflicting views on almost everything around - when to start, what to give and how much to give. To add to this there are different viewpoints from elders, pediatricians, nutritionists, fellow mommies and of course the most common source of information "Our dearest Google". Thus, I had spent months researching on this topic before I transitioned to starting Solids to my little one. In this article, I will be sharing tips on how to start solids for your little one.
- What to serve first?
It is recommended that you start with one food item at a time before transitioning to other meals. I started with moong dal on the day my son completed 6 months. Pressure cook the moong dal, add hing powder, jeera powder and a drop of ghee while pressure cooking the dal. Grind the dal into a thick paste in a mixer and then strain it using a thin mesh strainer. I chose to start with dal because I wasn't too sure of the quality of veggies and fruits as there might be a risk of pesticides being used on the veggies and fruits.
- When to serve the meal?
The best time to serve is when your baby is fresh and active. I started giving first meal during lunch time. My baby wakes up at 9:00 am, has his massage and bath and is off to his next nap by 10:30 and then wakes up at 12:30. It is recommended to breastfeed the baby 30-45 mins prior to giving solids. So, in my case, feed is around 12:30 and then meal at around 1:00. I use our traditional vati and spoon for serving meal.
- What should be the quantity?
Initially in the seventh month baby will eat only 1-2 spoons per meal and it is absolutely fine. Remember their source of nutrition is still breast milk.
- How many times a day should the solids be given?
In 7th month when you start solids, recommendation is one meal and one snack. Thereafter in each subsequently you can add one meal i.e. in 8th month 2 meals + snack, in 9th month 3 meals + snack so on.
- Is there any particular menu that I need to stick to?
You can introduce anything to your little one, however just remember one rule first introduce all single ingredients and then transition to combination ingredients. Whenever you introduce a food item, stick to it for 3 consecutive days to see if your baby is properly able to digest it and then introduce the next food item. You can start with dals, rice, veggies, fruits.
Dals - Tur, moong, masoor
Rice - White rice
Other cereals - Millet, quinoa, ragi, oats, sabudana, sprouted moong, matki, lotus seed, any other cereal that you otherwise eat in your daily meal.
Veggies- Carrot, sweet potato, beet, gourd, cauliflower, palak, coriander, tomato, potato, capsicum, cucumber, peas etc.
Fruits- Apple, banana, pear, papaya, plum, berries, melons etc.
Dryfruits powder, dairy products etc.
- What should be the consistency of the solids?
In the first month i.e. in the 7th month it should be like a thick liquid paste, it should stay on the spoon and should not be too watery like a soup. In the 8th month, it should be hand mashed. In the 9th month, tiny pieces and from the 10th month it can be a finger food.
- Any food items that need to be avoided?
Do not provide juices and dal water. I have had multiple pediatricians suggest to start with dal water and I had to let it go till I found the reasoning that was convincing enough. Remember the purpose behind introducing solids is also to familiarize your little one with the taste of each ingredient and to get the baby used to the texture. In dal water or juices, babies are getting adapted to easy digestion and later on they wouldn't take efforts to eat solid food in its truest form hence it is better to avoid these in the beginning.
- Say a Complete No to Salt, sugar, honey and jaggery till the baby turns 1. Why?
The amount of sodium required for a baby less than 1 year old is sufficiently obtained from breast milk and other food items that you will introduce. Adding a pinch of salt in baby's food will instead increase the overall sodium intake thereby causing issues related to kidney, high blood pressure etc. at a later point in life. Similarly, sugar contains a large number of calories and may in turn lead to obesity, tooth decay and cavity decay, type 2 diabetes in future when babies grow up. Intake of honey leads to botulism. Although jaggery contains a lot of health benefits, it is difficult for the babies to digest. This in turn may cause rashes, itching due to over hearing caused by the consumption of jaggery. Hence, as a well-informed parent it is best to avoid these items. You can still add sweet flavor to your baby's food by using alternate food items such as apple sauce, fruit puree, mashed banana, dry fruits powder etc.
It is a sheer joy to see your baby transitioning from milk to solids. Discovering your baby’s reactions and taste preferences is an exciting milestone for parents too as much as it is for the baby. Trust me nothing is more fulfilling than preparing baby friendly delicacies and seeing your baby relish those. Do share your experiences with starting solids in the comments section.
Payoni is an HR professional working with a manufacturing conglomerate. She is fond of painting and is an avid reader. Being a mom to a little prince, she also likes to share her first hand experiences through blogging. You can connect with her on Instagram at payoinsta and on Facebook and LinkedIn at Payoni Dhaker.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.