Starting with baby food is exciting but challenging as well. Making your baby eat and then making it eat well is the most challenging part of the daily routine. As a baby reaches the 4-6 months stage, it has to be started on semi-solids. Feeding meals is messy, time-consuming, and needs lots of patience. But, watching your baby try new foods for the very first time is heart-warming. Here is the advice of experienced moms, experts, and consultants for you to arrive at the correct decisions regarding when to give the meals, how to give meals, and what all can be included or excluded so that the baby remains healthy and happy. Here are all the things you need to know while beginning baby first foods for 4-6 months old. Sit back, relax and read on.
Apple is one of the first foods that are offered to babies when they are started on semi-solids. Don’t forget to check out our Apple puree recipe for babies that is delicious and keeps the nutrition intact!
The Right Time to Start Solids for the Baby – Age and Indicators
It is generally advised by the doctors to start the solids as a baby turns 6 months. However, anytime between 4-6 months is a good time to start the journey of solids for your baby. You can initiate this journey after discussing it with your pediatrician. There are certain indicators that you can note and that determine if a child is ready for solids or not. These are:
- The baby can sit straight with or without support
- Baby can take the food into its mouth and not spit it out
- The baby can control its neck and head in a steady and upright position
- Baby is showing interest in food items you consume and desires to eat them
- Baby feels hungry even after giving mother's milk throughout the day
If these signs are persistently present, then you can slowly but steadily start with solids. Ask your pediatrician before starting with anything new.
How to Start Baby First Foods for 4-6 Months Old?
Starting the solids for the baby is a gradual process and takes its own sweet time. Start by giving one tablespoon of the meal. Be ready as it will take a few days for the baby to get used to the taste of the food. Continue with this routine for a week. Then start giving 2-3 tablespoons. For the rest of the day, mother's milk or formula has to be continued.
Initially, it has to be just one meal in a day for the baby and should preferably be given in the morning or at noontime to rule out any allergies. Continue this pattern for the first month. From the second month onwards, one meal in the morning and one snack at noontime is advisable. The basic idea is to prepare the baby for new tastes and textures. The baby mustn't be force-fed. Then, you can start two meals and two snacks from next month and so on.
Here are some points to keep in mind when starting on solids:
- Mother's milk remains the main source of nutrition till 1 year of age and should be continued
- No salt and sugar should be given in the first year
- Junk food is easy to give but should be avoided
- Focus on providing a balanced diet throughout the day
- Keep on giving the same food item for 3 days to ascertain any allergic reaction
- A single ingredient should be introduced at a time
- Morning or noon is the best time for introducing new foods as a baby can easily digest them by evening
- Prioritizing on serving healthy meals is necessary
- Give a gap in between 2 meals by feeding milk as it will make the baby hungry
- The texture of meals, in the beginning, should be puree and then followed by mashed afterward
- Only seasonal and fresh fruits and vegetables should be chosen
- Educate yourself on the food items that cause bloating, gas, constipation, rash, or any discomfort to the baby
- Refrain from using TV, mobile, or any other distraction feeding methodology
- Sterilization of utensils and containers used to prepare and serve baby food should be thorough and proper
- Any trace of even a slight allergy should be timely noticed and taken care of
Which Baby First Foods for 4-6 Months Old?
There is genuine excitement regarding choosing the very first foods for the baby to cherish. This list will surely guide you in respect of the different categories of baby first foods for 4-6 months old that can form a part of the first meals and are safe to be given:
Banana, apple, peaches, apricots, prunes, avocados, and pears are safe as first fruits. They are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals. Apples and pears should be steamed before serving. Feed the fruits as purees to your baby at this stage.
Carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and peas are healthy and safe. Veggies are an abundant source of different vitamins and minerals. These should be steamed and pureed.
Moong dal is the easiest to digest. Hence, it is the very first lentil that should be fed. Masoordhuli can follow it. Lentil water (daalkapaani) is also considered the best baby first foods for 4-6 months old and recommended by pediatricians as it is easily digested and is a rich source of proteins.
These should be started after fruits and vegetables as they take time to digest. Oats, ragi, rice, and barley are extremely healthy and can be given at this stage. But make sure they are cooked properly for easy digestion. Rice water (chawalkapaani) is also one of the most popular baby first foods for 4-6 months old. Rice and moong dal khichdi are nutritious yet light on the tummy so it can follow the rice and daal water as the first semi-solid food.
Cerelac can be given as prescribed by the pediatrician.
Once each item has been tried individually, you can easily combine fruits and grains or vegetables and grains to supplement nutrition and add a different taste for the baby to relish. Keep on experimenting and observing the foods that the baby is accepting easily and readily eating.
How to Identify Food Allergy?
Allergies due to food can be in the form of constipation, gas, skin rash, fever, loose motion, blue skin color, colic, or continued discomfort in the baby. If any sign or symptom of the above-mentioned allergies appears, then the doctor should be immediately consulted. Identify the food item which might have caused the allergy in the baby and discontinue giving it for at least one month. Start that food again only after taking advice from your pediatrician.
How to Store Baby Food?
Baby food can be easily stored if you have made a few meals in advance, you are traveling, or simply if the baby refuses to eat a particular meal at the designated time. The best options to store are glass jars or plastic jars specially crafted for storing baby food. Both the options are readily available in the market.
The freshly prepared baby food can be stored at room temperature for 2 hours and after that, it needs to be refrigerated. The refrigerated food can be stored for a maximum of 48 hours. If refrigerated food has been reheated then it should be immediately consumed and any leftovers now should be disposed of.
Tips to Manage the Transition and Fussiness
Here are a few suggestions to make your transitioning phase simpler when you start with your journey of baby first foods for your 4-6 months old:
1. Your baby eats well, Don’t Worry
All babies are fussy when it comes to eating meals, especially in the very beginning. Sometimes it can make the parents exhausted. Babies generally eat as per their hunger. It is believed that they understand their body cues better than adults and know when they are hungry and when they are full. So, leave some decisions to your baby and never force feed.
2. Give a proper space away from gadgets and other disturbing factors
Making your baby eat while watching TV or while using mobile phones is a big NO. This will not only disturb their eating plan but make them irritable as well. Get a good high chair or a booster seat and make your baby eat on it. This will make them develop good eating habits gradually and also enjoy and experiment with the meals to the fullest. You can also serve meals in attractive bowls/plates with good spoons or a fork.
3. Be experimental with the food you give
Always try to serve attractive meals. This way they will start developing an interest in what is being served to them. Try with new shapes, colors of vegetables, textures, etc., and let your baby just dig into the plate that you prepare for it.
4. Never discourage messy eating
We don’t like messy eaters as it increases our work later by cleaning all the mess. But it is really important to make your babies enjoy their food as per their wish. And gradually, you can make them develop good hygienic habits. Let them play around with the food, let them spoil their clothes, their mouth; let them make their decisions while eating. Remember, your baby is learning to eat, eat all by itself. So, just let it do that. It is just their way to learn. No need to wipe them time and again while feeding them and no need to spoon-feed them each time.
5. Always follow a schedule
Babies learn with schedules and they get adapted to that as well. It is just that you have to make your baby fit into the schedule you think is best for her. Always follow the meal times. This way, your baby will also be able to identify its meal time and create less fuss. So, have a schedule.
Mealtime should be a fun and an exciting activity. The underlining theory is not to rush and overstress if the baby is not eating enough or properly as every baby is different. With a continuous and consistent approach, the baby will start to relish his solids and you will see a smiling and healthy baby! We hope our suggestions will help you in the initiation of baby first foods for your 4-6 months old.