Guidelines for the introduction of solid food

Solid feeding should begin at six months when the baby’s stomach is already able to gradually assimilate some foods that are not only breast milk. In addition, this is usually the ideal time for the baby to start such feeding because it is about this age approximately when he will lose the extrusion reflex, that is, he no longer ejects the food he eats.

What happens if the baby is offered food too soon?

As stated by the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP), too early introduction of  complementary feeding (AC) could entail risks in the short and long term, and if there is no availability of breastfeeding before four months the mother or child The father of the baby should use only starting formula (type 1) as a substitute because between four and six months there have been no benefits of the introduction of feeding in infants and breastfed children and there has been, however, an increase of infections, both in developing and developed countries. The current recommendation by the AEP, therefore, is to wait up to six months to begin with AC in breastfed infants. For its part, in those already artificially breastfed, the association’s recommendation is less unanimous, although it should never be started before the fourth month. Among the possible risks of an early introduction of solid food are:

  • Possibility of choking
  • Increase in acute gastroenteritis and upper respiratory tract infections
  • Increased risk of obesity (long term)
  • Higher rate of early weaning with the added risks that this entails

As for the delay beyond the seventh month, it could be said that, with some exceptions, it is usually quite unusual that they have not begun to offer other foods other than milk, although it could occur in babies who drink breast milk and who have not still shown an overly active interest in food. The AEP completely discourages delaying the onset of CA above twenty-six weeks of age as this could also increase the risk of nutritional problems such as iron deficiency. Some of the possible risks of a late solid diet are:

  • Nutritional deficiencies, especially iron and zinc
  • Increased risk of food allergies and intolerances
  • Worst acceptance of new textures and flavors
  • Increased possibility of impaired oral motor skills

How to introduce solid foods into the baby’s diet

From the sixth month, the baby will need an extra contribution of calories, vitamins, and minerals in the form of solid food because only with breast milk will not be enough, and to introduce the first foods you will have to choose a take in which the baby I have to be awake and alert.

The guidelines for solid food introduction vary widely between different regions and cultures, although from the AEP, they ensure that “rigid instructions” should not be given. In fact, as they say, “there are no better foods than others to start, although it is recommended to  offer priority foods rich in iron and zinc .” Likewise, it is recommended to introduce food always one at a time with intervals of a few days to observe the tolerance and acceptance of each of them. Nor should salt, sugar or sweeteners be added so that you get used to the natural flavors of food. Likewise, the association itself offers families some general guidelines, although these must be individualized according to their tastes and needs:

  • 0-6 months: breast milk
  • 6-12 months: breast milk, adapted formulas (if not breastfeeding) and cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes, eggs, meat, chicken, fish and olive oil.
  • 12-24 months: cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes, egg, meat, chicken, fish and olive oil, but also whole milk, yogurt, and soft cheese.
  • P or above three years: solid at risk of choking as nuts, raw carrots or whole nuts.

What foods are restricted at least until the baby is three years old?

Dangerous foods such as apples, raw carrots or nuts should always be avoided. Nor are superfluous foods such as sugars, honey, pastries, cookies, sausages or deli. These, the later and in less quantity much better, and in the case that they want to offer babies always from twelve months.

It is also essential to accompany the baby at all times while eating, enhance iron-rich foods and have, above all, time and patience because this form of feeding is much slower. It may take a long time for the baby to eat small pieces of vegetables or some macaroni. In addition, it is also possible that at first, you do not eat too much, but you should not worry much about the amounts. He is not yet accustomed and will need time. Take care to continue offering breast milk or formula so that you do not stay hungry either.

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