In The Beginning: Solid Food

April 1, 2009

If you've waited out the long half year recommended by most pediatricians as the ideal time to begin a baby on solids then good for you! You've given your baby the best possible start on solid foods. Breast milk or formulas are the best nutrition for babies under the age of six months. After that, your baby really does begin to need solid food to get certain nutrients, for instance vitamin C and iron.

At this point, some experts feel that withholding solid foods may retard growth. Babies begin to need many more calories and carbohydrates than milk or formula can provide. Also, there's a window of educational opportunity between the ages of 7-9 months when your baby should learn to chew and eat. Delaying the introduction of solids into your baby's diet until she is 8-9 months old may mean she will turn away when offered foods with texture.

In addition to developmental readiness for food, there's also a more basic biological function at play and this concerns calories and infant body weight. Babies need, on average, around 50 calories a day for each pound of body weight. Breast milk or formulas contain some 20 calories an ounce. That means that for every pound of body weight, your baby must drink some 2 ounces of milk. A baby who weighs 13 pounds, for instance, needs 650 calories a day, or 32 ounces of milk. It begins to be impractical to expect Mother Nature to provide ever greater bounty without some help.

Old Dependables--Best Foods To Start Your Baby On

Start with foods that are proven to be safe for babies such as those old dependables like ripe bananas and iron-enriched baby rice cereal and then move on to plain avocado and yogurt. But there are always exceptional cases for which these foods are poison. Selma Blair of Tulsa, OK can tell you all about exceptions: "I was so good about waiting out the full 6 months before beginning my baby on baby food, and then giving her only the right foods. She started getting sick all the time and I could never get her quite healthy again for many long years."

"Finally, when she was 16, we took Cindy to an allergist who ordered allergy testing. All those good pure foods I'd given her as an infant, feeding it to her for at least 5 days, and waiting 3 weeks before beginning the next food: rice cereal, then banana, then plain avocado with no seasoning—and she was so good about eating it all up. And here, years later, we find out she was allergic to all of it, the rice, the avocado, at least not the banana. But peas, berries, you name it. We're lucky her reactions weren't more serious!"

A pediatrician may be able to spot a potential dietary allergy trigger and should therefore be your first recourse in planning your baby's introduction to solid foods.

 

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