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The Importance of Introducing Solids to Your Baby: Why and When

Here at The Flavour Academy, Zenia Deogan - Author, Nutritionist, Food Scientist, Sensory Scientist and Weaning Expert shares her tips and expertise on the importance of really understanding what introducing solids means for your little one and when is the right time to start. It serves several important purposes, and knowing when and why to start is crucial for your child's overall health and well-being.

 

Why Introduce Solids?

 

  • Nutritional Needs: While breast milk or formula provides essential nutrients during the first six months, as your baby grows, their nutritional needs rapidly increases. Solid foods help meet these needs, by becoming complementary to milk - providing essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and calories.

 

  • Iron Stores: At around six months of age, your baby's iron stores from birth begin to deplete. Introducing iron-rich solid foods, like pureed meats, green vegetables and iron-fortified cereals, helps prevent iron deficiency anaemia which could include symptoms such as pale skin, irritability and fussiness and a sore/swollen tongue.

 

 

  • Physical Development: As babies grow, they develop the physical skills necessary for eating solid foods, such as better head control, the ability to sit with support, and the coordination to swallow.

 

 

  • Oral Motor Skills and Speech Development: Chewing and swallowing solid foods help babies develop their oral motor skills, including tongue, jaw and muscle movements, so important for speech development.

 

  • Palate Development: Introducing a variety of flavours and textures early on can help broaden your baby's palate and make them more open to trying different foods as they grow preventing future fussiness.

 

  • Independence: Encouraging self-feeding with finger foods or a spoon helps babies gain a sense of independence and autonomy.

 

  • Fullness and Satiety: Solid foods can help babies feel fuller for longer periods, which can potentially promote better sleep and more predictable feeding schedules as they grow.

 

When to Start Introducing Solids?

 

It is recommended to start introducing solids around six months of age. However, it's important to consider your baby's individual readiness signs, which may include:

 

  • Head control: Your baby can hold their head up steadily.

  • Sitting with support: They can sit with minimal assistance, which is essential for safe eating.

  • Interest in food and hand, eye co-ordination: Your baby shows curiosity when they see others eating or reaches for food during mealtimes.

  • Tongue thrust reflex: This reflex, which pushes food out of the mouth, should diminish around six months.

  • Gag reflex: Your baby's gag reflex moves further back in the mouth as they grow, reducing the risk of choking.

 

It's crucial not to rush into introducing solids before your baby is ready, as it can increase the risk of choking and digestive issues. Conversely, waiting too long to start solids can deprive your baby of essential nutrients.

 

In conclusion, introducing solids to your baby is essential for their growth, development, and nutritional needs. Starting around six months, when your baby shows signs of readiness, can help ensure a smooth transition to solid foods while promoting their overall health, development and well-being.

Follow @theflavouracademy on Instagram for more weaning tips and easy, flavourful recipes

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