So, your little one is 4 months old and questions about feeding arise. Can my baby eat solid/pureed food, how much and what to feed? Great questions!
Complementary feeding refers to the nutrients and energy from pureed/solid foods offered to the infant in addition to his liquid diet (breast milk, formula or both). Generally, the transition from a liquid diet to a mixed diet begins at 4-6 months old, this is assuming the baby is ready.
How much should I feed my baby?
Keep in mind that the amount of milk ingested by the infant, should decrease as additional calories from other sources besides milk, become available. A simple way to do this is to feed the pureed food first and then offer milk. Infant will likely take only a small amount of milk and that is ok since you are providing calories from another source. Be wise about what you offer!!!
How to know when my baby is ready to eat solids/pureed foods?
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends introducing pureed foods at 4-6MO. The achievement of certain developmental milestones will let you know that your infant is ready.
-Able to sit in the upright position with little to no support.
-Extrusion reflex has faded (baby no longer pushes food out with tongue).
-Ability to transfer object from one hand to the another.
What about finger feeding?
With the ability to transfer object infants will develop a preference for “Finger Feeding ” rather than spoon feeding from caregiver. Parents are encouraged to offer as many finger foods as possible to encourage self-feeding and to support child autonomy.
Keep in mind that the pace that your child accepts new tastes may vary from other infants. Parents are encouraged to accept this pace and not to become anxious. Remember that a healthy infant with normal development will eventually be willing to try new textures and taste.
Aside the common belief that we should avoid early introduction of nuts, eggs, fish, etc., studies have shown that there is no benefit in delaying introduction of these. Ironically, the number of allergic reactions reported increased with that old suggestion. Therefore, AAP now recommends introducing these foods from 4-6 months of age.
When to introduce cow’s milk? Early introduction of cow’s milk is associated microscopic blood loss in infants younger than 12 months of age, thus anemia. Do not offer cow’s milk before 1 year of age.
When to introduce Juice? Simple, No juice before 6 MO.
Avoid foods that could lead to choking in the infant or child: popcorn, hard candy, raisins, grapes, nuts.
Finally, healthy feeding Habits: Establish routines, avoid constant eating and drinking, limit meals to 15-20 minutes, minimize distractions (screen), praise eating but RESIT ATTENTION FOR NOT EATING.
Adriana Rosado-Jimenez, MD, FAAP