In this part of the world, Grandmothers, neighbours and well-wishers are always in a hurry for babies to start solids. You hear statements like ‘breastmilk can never be enough! Some force feeds their babies with pap while some commence swallowing diet in their one-month-old. These are wrong and harmful practices!
If you give your baby solids too early, there is a huge risk of digestive problems or food allergies developing as your babies’ digestive system is still too tender. Also, if solid food completely replaces breast milk or formula too quickly, your baby is at risk of infections and becoming malnourished. Here are ways to tell when your baby is ready for solids.
- Your baby should be able to sit in a steady upright position with good neck control, hence her head should be up without support in readiness for food to enter the mouth.
- She should have lost her tongue-thrust reflex which is largely responsible for her pushing food out of her mouth. At this point, she should know how to use her tongue keep food in her mouth, swallow and not choke on food.
- Your baby should be able to move food to the back of her mouth, her disposition should be that of one who is ready to chew.
- Your baby should have lost most of the jerkiness and can pick objects/food between her thumb and forefingers.
- Your baby would always look interested in your food, many times she would try to grab the food you are holding in your hands.
Commencing solids in your baby is a great adventure and many parents can’t wait for this time as they believe it would reduce demand for breastmilk.
Remember, Exclusive breastfeeding is essential! Solids can be introduced between 4- 6 months. However, it is advised to wait until 6 months. Start with one solid meal per day and then when the baby is 7 months you can increase to 2 - 3 times a day.
In all, Breastmilk should not be entirely stopped, ensure to breastfeed your baby till she is a year old while experimenting with different types of food as she grows.