After the first 6 months of life, breast and/or powder milk are no longer enough to meet babies’ nutritional needs, especially with regard to their calorie intake. Therefore, pediatricians recommend that complementary foods be introduced into babies’ diets as of that age.
These foods are meant to be complementary and not supplementary, as they are not meant to replace babies’ intake of milk. The idea is to introduce these foods gradually into a baby’s diet, alternating them with their milk intake, which at this stage and until 2 years of age will remain the basis for a child’s nutrition.
How do I know if my baby is ready for complementary feeding?
Although the World Health Organization (WHO) has established that infants should be exclusively breastfed during the first 6 months of age, other associations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) have stated that infants could start eating foods other than milk between the ages of 4 to 6 months.
There are some important signs that will allow you to determine whether, after turning 4 months, your baby is ready or not to eat solid foods:
- They have an adequate control of their head and neck
- They have begun putting their hands or toys in their mouths
- They can sit up on their own
- They are interested in food; they bend forward and open their mouth when it’s time to eat
How to get started?
Creams, compotes, porridges and purees are ideal foods to start incorporating solids into your baby’s diet, as they are easy to swallow and at the same time thick enough for your baby to take them.
You can use protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamins A, C and D, and calorie-rich foods such as red meat, potatoes and vegetables to mush, crush or slice them with a fork.
Cereals are also a good option that can be mixed with milk or water.