Is my baby ready for solid foods?
If you had grown up in the village, you would agree with me that in this part of the world, Grandmothers, neighbors, and well-wishers are always in a hurry for babies to start solids.
You get to hear statements like ‘breastmilk can never be enough! Some even force-feed their babies with Pap (Akamu) while some start gulping diet in their one-month-old. These aren’t right and can be a very harmful and hurtful practice for your toddler.
Health experts and breastfeeding experts agree that it’s best to wait until your baby is around six months old before offering solid foods.
The World Health Organization and many other health organizations recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed (no cereal, juice or other foods) for the first 6 months of life.
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.
Although the maturity of baby’s digestive system is not something that we can readily observe, research indicates that 6 months appears to be ideal for avoiding increased illness and other health risks of too-early solids.
Here are ways to tell when your baby is developmentally ready for solids.
- Baby can sit up well without support.
- Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue.
- Baby is ready and willing to chew.
- Baby is developing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects between thumb and forefinger.
- Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth.
Many parents especially the mothers can’t wait to reduce the demand and burden of breastfeeding, you should also read the 5 Ways New Parent Can Get More Sleep (New Mom After Child Birth) but keep to mind that breastfeeding is essential.
Exclusive breastfeeding to about six months allows your infant to have greater immunologic protection and limit the exposure to pathogens at a vulnerable age.