Infant Childcare Tips For Introducing Solid Foods

infant childcare

One of the most common infant childcare questions revolves around the introduction of solids. Parents and childminders are always wanting to know when and how solid food should be introduced, but that question has no simple answer. The reason for this is that all infants are different and develop at different rates.

Various studies conducted around this topic, conclude that the average age for solid food introduction appears to be between four and six months. This is provided the child displays signs of being ready to eat solids.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that no solid food should be introduced before four months.

Signs That Indicate a Child Is Ready for Solid Food

Children develop at different rates, but most children should be ready for solid food by the age of six months. Typical signs that they are ready for solid are:

  • They can sit alone, or with a little support.
  • They can control their head and neck.
  • They grasp objects and bring them to their mouth.
  • They appear curious while you are eating.
  • They seem hungry and open their mouths when food is offered.
  • They do not automatically spit the food out onto their chin. They can move the food to the back of their mouths with their tongue and swallow.

Is There a Specific Order That Food Should Be Introduced?

The American Academy of Pediatrics confirms that there is no specific order of introducing solids. If solids are introduced from six months, most infants should be eating a variety of foods by seven to eight months. Some general guidelines to introducing different food substances are:

  • Introduce one food type at a time. Wait three to five days between food types and observe for allergies or adverse effects.
  • Do not introduce cow’s milk or fortified soy until 12 months.
  • Ensure you include foods that are rich in vitamin D (for bone strength) and Iron (which helps red blood cells transport oxygen to vital organs)

How To Prepare A Baby’s Food

When solids are first introduced, the baby has very few/no teeth, and cannot chew its food. It is vital to prepare food correctly to prevent choking. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • First, mash or puree, then strain all the food. A baby needs time to adjust to the new texture. You can start making the food a little thicker when they show no signs of coughing or gagging.
  • Use milk or formula to make the pureed food thinner and more palatable if necessary.
  • At first, fruits and vegetables must be pureed. After a while, hard vegetables (and fruit) can be cooked until soft enough to be mashed with a fork.
  • Remove all fat, skin, and bones before cooking meat and fish.
  • Remove all seeds and pith from fruit.
  • All whole-grain kernels, wheat, barley, rice, and other grains must be ground and mashed finely.

How To Prevent Your Infant from Choking

Anyone who has witnessed an infant choking will testify that it is a terrifying experience. Parents and childminders need to be extra vigilant during mealtimes. There are many ways to minimize the risk of choking:

  • Never multitask while feeding an infant. Your focus must be 100% on the task at hand.
  • Never leave the infant unattended when it is eating.
  • Mealtimes must be relaxed. Your baby should not be crying or distressed, and you should not be rushed.
  • Never force-feed. Leave the food for later if the infant refuses to eat.
  • Never feed your baby in a moving vehicle or stroller. They must be seated and stationary.
  • Avoid all food that is difficult to chew and swallow, this includes feeding them food that is small, sticky, or hard. Some foods to be avoided include:
    • Nuts
    • Seeds
    • Raisins
    • Hard candy
    • Popcorn
    • Peanut butter

When children eat snacks and finger foods, choking becomes even more of a potential hazard. To minimize the risk of choking, the food needs to be cut correctly:

  • Spherical foods like grapes, tomatoes, cherries, and berries, should be cut into small pieces.
  • Cylindrical foods like sausage and hot dogs should be cut into thin strips. Cylindrical foods must never be cut into round pieces.

Need More Information About Infant Childcare? Parkland Children’s Academy Are Here for You

Parkland Children’s Academy is known for providing the highest quality service to children and their parents. If you are looking for reliable, qualified, and experienced childminders for your infant, you’ve come to the right place. For more information, or to arrange a tour of our facilities, contact us on 954-688-5877 Monday to Friday between 7 am and 6 pm.

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