Are you not excited to see your little one tapping into his/her 6th month? Congratulations – he/she is ready to start with solid foods. But, keep in mind that breast milk or formula still remains to be the primary source of nutrient to the baby until 1 year or more. (Growth and development of 6 months old baby?)
How do you decide your baby is ready for solids?
Based on the physical development of the baby, the solids are introduced. Firstly, proper development of digestive enzymes is required. The digestive enzymes in the stomach develop between 4 to 6 months and it aids in digestion. Early introduction of solids before proper development of digestive enzymes leads to more digestive problems and food allergies. Secondly, good head and neck control is required to easily accept solids, chew and swallow them. In addition to this, you can introduce solids when your child shows interest in food or is still hungry after being breastfed or formula fed. (Read more about introducing solids to baby)
What are the best foods for a 6 month old baby?
The foods commonly used in the diet for a 6 month baby includes fruits and vegetable puree, cereal / pulses porridge, vegetable/ pulses soup, cerelac for 6 month baby etc.
- Fruits puree: Fruits such as apples, pear, banana, avocado, papaya and peaches should be steamed, mashed or pureed before feeding to the baby.
- Vegetable puree: It is prepared by steaming or boiling vegetables with water. The commonly used vegetables are sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, tapioca, sweet pumpkins etc.
- Pulses and vegetable soup: The stock of pulses such as moong dal and vegetables such as carrot, sweet pumpkin can be prepared by boiling in water. This stock serves as soup for babies.
- Mung bean porridge: Mung bean being a great source of protein is the best choice for the baby introduced to solids. Firstly, begin with mung bean soup and slowly start with mung bean porridge. It is advisable to soak, sprout and cook the beans since it makes digestion easier in babies.
- Rice porridge: Rice porridge is prepared with broken rice and breast milk or formula milk. It is a good source of carbohydrates and vitamins for babies.
- Cereal porridge: A single or variety of cereals like wheat, barley, oats and millets can be used for the preparation of porridge. The cereal can be dried, powdered and used for porridge.
- Cerelac for 6 month baby: Homemade or commercially available cerelac can be fed to babies. Boil clean drinking water for 5 minutes. Allow it to cool and add 3-4 spoons of cerelac, mix well until smooth and serve.
- Herbs: You can add a pinch of herbs like cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, mint, turmeric etc. to the baby’s food to introduce new flavors and build healthy eating habits. The herbs also serve nutritional benefits.
Important tips for starting solids for baby:
Since the introduction of solids to babies is challenging task to their parents, it is very important to plan well before they start. You can consult your pediatrician to check if your baby is ready for solids. And, you can also prepare a 6 month baby food chart with the best foods you plan to try with.
- Start with a single fruit, vegetable or cereal. Do not try combinations of foods at first. Always go with mashed fruit first.
- Stick to the 3-day rule. Feed the same food for the first three days and observe the reactions before starting a different one. This helps in finding the culprit foods that cause allergic reactions in your babies.
- After 3 days, along with mashed fruit, start vegetable soup or pulse soup, later add porridge to the meal.
- Always try new foods for breakfast or lunch. Since this helps in tacking any allergic reactions caused.
- Avoid finger foods or foods with lumps for babies of 6 month old as they may cause gagging and choking.
- Initially, start with a tablespoon of single food and gradually increase it to 3-4 tablespoons or more.
- Always choose a calm and peaceful environment while feeding your baby.
- Avoid distractions while feeding such as watching tv, using electronic gadgets – mobile or tablet.
- Introduce foods with different flavors, texture and taste, as these draw the babies likeness towards the food.
- Always prepare and store baby foods in clean and sterilized steel or glass containers and avoid containers made up of plastic.
- Use steel cups to introduce water rather than a feeding bottle to bring out transition in growing babies.
6 month baby food chart:
You can design a meal plan or food chart for your baby and follow it. Since milk is still the prime source of nutrition to the babies, introduced solids between the milk feeds. Refer to the below food chart for 4 weeks to get an idea on how to plan the meals for baby. You can choose more recipes from here and replace or add as per your taste and preference. (Which is the best milk for baby?)
Similarly, you can personalize a 6 month baby food chart based on your baby’s choices and follow it. You can also try different combinations of food that suits your baby. Don’t forget to give enough water after every solids introduced. In the first week, start with 1 tablespoon of single food and gradually increase it to 3-4 tablespoons. In the following week, you can gradually increase the solids being fed. Avoid trying new foods in the evening. And it takes time for your baby to adapt to this meal plan, so stay calm and patient rather than forcing the feed to the baby. (Is your child lactose intolerant?)
How to identify if your baby has an allergy to a particular food?
The child develops following symptoms, if he/ she has an allergy to a particular food:
Don’t panic!! Follow this, if your baby is allergic to a particular food.
Always follow the 3 day rule, while introducing a new food to your baby. If the baby shows above symptoms to any food, stop it immediately and reintroduce them later. Also, keep a track in the 6 month baby food chart with your baby’s favorite foods and of those causing allergies. If symptoms persist for a longer time, consult a doctor immediately.
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