At the end of six months and demonstrating all signs of fitness, the baby, who previously fed exclusively on breast milk or milk formula, needs to start complementary feeding. This stage of food presentation is called food introduction.
Food introduction consists of gradually and slowly offering foods to babies after they are fit. For this, there are several methods that enable a more passive or active performance of the child while feeding. See below which are the main ones.
Main methods of food introduction
It is the famous baby food offered to the baby. In this method, it is common to use purees and soups. It is important to note that it is not recommended to process the food in a blender or to sift it, all should be kneaded with the fork and offered in this way to the child.
Baby Guide Weaning
Baby Guided Weaning and is one of the methodologies that has gained the most supporters lately. The method refers to offering the food in pieces for the baby to explore and eat whatever is convenient. The biggest advantage of this type of food introduction is the better acceptance of the child, providing greater autonomy to the baby.
It is quite similar to Baby Guided Weaning and includes some standards to ensure the necessary nutrients in the food offered. The acronym stands for Baby-Guided Solids Introduction and is based on a series of recommendations on food preparation and supply aimed at increasing absorption of iron and other nutrients, as well as reducing the risk of growth failure.
In this methodology, the baby is active in feeding. However, the adult remains present as an intermediary of the process. Thus, the feeding is assisted by the caregiver, but the baby’s preferences are maintained.
Major challenges of food introduction
Denial of food is one of the most frequent challenges parents must face during food introduction. The baby still used to eat only milk, begins to explore new foods, which is not always pleasant. An important tip is to allow the child to play with the food and know its texture, making this phase more enjoyable.
It is important to highlight that the food in this period is a complementary diet. Breast milk is still the main food for the baby up to one year. So do not worry if your child does not immediately accept the new diet. The goal is to present the baby with a new way of eating and not completely replace breast milk or formula.
Controlling these expectations is also a major challenge for parents. Finding out about this is one way to minimize these longings. Another factor related to parental anxiety is waiting for the proper time for food introduction. Introducing foods early can pose a number of health hazards to the baby, as digestive and renal maturity is only complete around six months.
When should food and fluid introduction be started?
The food introduction should start at six months. However, there are other signs shown by the child that she is already ready for this moment. Among them, it is important to mention the ability to sit without support, the autonomy to carry objects to the mouth, the act of showing interest in food and the reduction of the tongue protrusion reflex that babies have from newborns.
With food introduction, water can also be offered. However, the consumption of natural juices is only recommended after the first year of life.
What should the child's eating routine be like?
Breast-fed babies should start by eating three meals a day in the sixth month of life, in addition to breastfeeding on demand. Therefore, two fruit meals and one main meal containing at least one cereal, one vegetable, one legume and one protein are recommended. In the seventh month, one more salty dish should be added, completing four daily meals.
For babies using formula, the same procedure is recommended. However, the formula should not be offered near meals so that there is no harm to iron absorption.
The food introduction is another moment of discovery and learning for the baby. It is therefore important for parents to be informed and use the method that is most appealing to their child, enabling them to explore and learn about a new way of eating.