When can I start feeding my baby cereal
LET’S GO! THE FIRST MEAL
The best times to begin are late morning (after the early morning feeding so your child won’t be as fussy) or early afternoon. If you start during either of these times, you will have more than enough opportunity to monitor any of Baby’s food reactions during the day. Also, choose a time when Baby is in good spirits, rather than sleepy or cranky, and when you will not be interrupted. Never introduce new foods at night in case Baby has a reaction that could be missed.
It’s a good idea to start a food journal to record what your baby eats, the date it’s eaten, and any reaction she has to the food. Keep this journal and use it regularly throughout the first year and into the second. It can be useful to share this information with your pediatrician if your baby has a reaction to a certain food. Remember to introduce new foods one at a time and space them a few days apart.
Babies need to have a diet that is mostly cooked to keep them warm, so they do not waste energy trying to digest raw or cold foods. One of the best first foods for Baby is the sweet gruel on top of brown rice cereal mixed with some breast milk or formula. It should be very thin, about the consistency of breast milk. Begin with one teaspoon for the first couple of days. Because your baby will just be pushing it to the top of her mouth and swallowing, avoid thick cereal, which could be choked on or come out the same way it went in.Banana is also a great first food, but make sure that it is organic and thoroughly mashed. It should easily slide off the spoon. Once Baby begins solid foods, she will also need small amounts of water to help with digestion and to keep her properly hydrated.
Cow’s milk should not be introduced before one year because it has a different protein composition than breast milk or formula, is low in iron and vitamin C, and can cause your baby to loose iron through the intestines. It is not a substitute for breast milk or formula.
Nurse or bottle feed your baby a little first and then introduce some solid food on a spoon. If you do not succeed at the first meal, tomorrow is another day. Baby may take a little time adjusting to the spoon; after all, it is not the soft nipple that she is used to. You may offer the breast or bottle after the solids if she still appears hungry.
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Be happy and calm when you are feeding your baby or she may feel a little uneasy. Your baby needs time to feel comfortable and to explore and embrace the experience. If she doesn’t eat everything, that’s okay. Babies have small stomachs and will know when they are full; forcing those last spoonfuls often means the food will be spit out (sometimes all over you). As the baby’s nurturer, you want to continue the loving bond that you have created as you begin this new feeding routine.
It may take several times before your baby is ready to accept a certain food. Be patient and continue to provide your baby with a wide variety of healthy foods. A few days can make a big difference in a baby’s tastes or acceptance of food.
Babies often react to a new food by making faces, spitting the food out, playing with it, or simply refusing to eat it. Be patient; it may soon become their favorite food. Because forcing them usually makes them resist more, try these suggestions. Serve the same meal to the family (less pureed of course) and Baby (always ready to imitate) will notice this and be more willing to try her food. Try again tomorrow or next week; it may take a few times. Because babies’ taste buds are unspoiled, keep the new foods healthy; it’s the best time to give green vegetables such as broccoli or kale.
MEALTIME OR PLAYTIME?
Be prepared, your baby may love to stick her hands in her food or throw her bowl and spoon on the floor.To your baby it’s just a game: I throw the spoon and Mom or Dad keeps picking it up. Keep your cool; the more frustrated you get, the more your baby may repeat this behavior. Give your baby some time to explore her food, but then calmly reinforce your rules (no throwing food or spitting it out onto the floor) by taking away her food.
At first, babies who are learning to eat are also learning object permanence: I throw the food but it doesn’t disappear, it changes places; now it is on the floor. Babies are smart, and by the time they are self-feeding they understand that if they are hungry, they need to eat, and if they throw their food around, they will still feel hungry.
First meals can get really messy as Baby may suck the cereal off her fingers, put it in her hair, and rub the bib on her face. Don’t worry; she will get used to the routine in no time. Be consistent with who feeds your baby at the beginning because you want to establish a routine that you can eventually teach to others. Siblings often like to be involved in the process. Also, keep Baby’s eating area uncluttered so she can stay focused on the food in front of her.Toys, books, dolls, and stuffed animals belong in another room, not on Baby’s high chair.
Self-feeding is just around the corner, so try to build good habits now. Establish meal times for each day, and schedule meals around nap times and snack times. Be prepared for a mess as your baby grabs for that spoon. For those of you who are super-neat and dislike any mess, welcome to a whole new world. You’ll soon begin to laugh as you see the joy in your child’s eyes as she is doing it all by herself.
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