What is the right age to start solid food to Baby?

What is the right age to start solid food to Baby?

Child and infant feeding guidelines from day one to one year.

   مان کا دودھ بچے اور نوزادےے کے لیے بہترین غزا ہے-

By Mahmood Hussain 21st December 2017, write articles and blogs to be published in www.babyfirst.com.pk BABY FIRST PAKISTAN and on Facebook/babyfirstPakistan and other social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and so on. The writer is from Karachi, Pakistan Currently he is in Philadelphia, the USA which is chilling and along with snowing occasionally.

In below article reference data and reports were collected from WHO, Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) of the UK & The American Academy of Pediatrics.

Every child who is born has the right and in need for good nutrition as stated by WHO and it is also a common sense. This has been discussed and approved in the “Convention on the right of the Child”, of the United Nations which is commonly abbreviated as the (CRC or UNCRC). It is a human rights treaty which sets out the rules for the children in term of their economic, social, health, cultural civil and political rights within the society.

Preference is breast milk only and if needed than formula can be given to the young baby within first six months. This should be the only source of food and nutrition for the newborn. American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months from the day of baby birth. From ages 4 months to 6 months, normally babies are ready for eating the solid foods, which will complement the breastfeeding or formula milk given to babies.

On 02nd August 2017, Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) of UK has published new guidelines based on latest research regarding how long mother should consider breastfeeding and when to start solid food. They have listed four main points such as:

  • Mothers are supported and encouraged to breastfeed their child exclusively for first 6 months.
  • Solid food to the child should not be started before 4 months at any cost.
  • It is ideal to start solid food at 6 months along with breastfeeding, now the baby is grown up and baby needs to have this age needed nutrition.
  • Mothers to be provided the best support and encourage her to continue breastfeeding side by side to baby for another 18 months and make possible along with solid food.

Ideally, this period of breastfeeding along with solid food should last for the age of 2 years, this will be ideal for the health of both, the baby and mother.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends breastfeeding to the child. The baby to be exclusively breastfed for the first six months that meets the baby nutritional need in this period.  AAP in their section of nutrition, providing guidelines for doctors and pediatricians and they recommend starting solids food at 4 to 6 months.

Importance of breastfeeding for the healthy baby.

Breastfeeding importance is well established but this needs patience and determination of parent and especially the mothers. Breastfeeding improves child growth and development. Secondly fewer chances of illness or sickness among babies who are exclusively on breastfeeding. Within near future and in the later part of the life of baby it reduces the health cost. Overall it results in the economic gain for the individual, family and the nation.

Fact sheet of WHO.

WHO site states following in their Fact Sheet recently updated in July 2017:

  • 155 million children who are under the age of 5 years were estimated to be stunted which means, they are quite short of height as per the standard for this age group.
  • Data also revealed 52 million children are too thin as per their height and age.
  • 41 million children are overweight or obese.
  • 45% of the death of the children is associated with undernutrition (malnutrition).
  • Despite the focus of WHO, CDC and UNESCO for exclusive breastfeeding to the baby, so far only 40% infants of 0-6 months are exclusively on breastfeeding.
  • Nearly 1 million children live can be saved each year of under 5year age, if children within their life from 6-24 months are maximally breastfed.
  • Established fact and acknowledged breastfeeding to the children, which improves their IQ level, they are cheerful and lively. Less absenteeism from school and later in their lives as adults they earn the higher income.
  • The data further states few children received adequate or needed nutrition. Secondly, the food given to the baby should be safe and hygienic. In the majority of countries, less than 25% meet the criteria, If we look at the Asia Pacific, the SARRC country and African Sub Saharan countries than prevailing condition is more than worst.
  • If we consider current situation within Pakistan, the sixth largest country in the world, it is highly depressive and frustrating. Look at the current situation prevailing in Tharparkar division, which is situated in the province of Sindh. This has also been highly publicized and focused on media and NGOs. Still, a long way to go in this area. The overall condition is not very encouraging. This worst or dire situation can be observed in other areas of Pakistan.

To start solid food to the baby at age of 6 months or 4 months is choice of mother or parent. As per my opinion and WHO are also in favor of after six months along with breastfeeding. Before it, the baby should be exclusively fed on breastfeeding, even no need of water to be given to the baby.

Nature has provided all needed nutrition and immunity in mother milk for baby either they are below 6 months or older.  

To start solid food to baby on the day one is highly exciting and a big deal for parents and especially the mother. It is a clever idea to take photographs, selfies or make a video from your mobile of this occasion and store in your memory bank. Later time share this moment with baby father, grandmother/grandfather and other close relative and dear friends.

Pick the suitable time to give solid food for the first time, when a baby is in good mood. Baby should not be much hungry, cranky and tired. It will be time-consuming and have patience. Secondly, hold on to your excitement and not in rush to feed your baby.

Introduce one food to feed a baby for the first time and in small quantity. Continue this food for few days. Please observe its suits the baby, then later add new food.

It is also important to check for a possible allergic reaction if any. Please observe baby is not having diarrhea or vomiting with any food given to the baby. If any such condition is observed, please stop giving immediately and do consult with the baby doctor or pediatrician.

If the mother chooses, later to introduce cereal, please ensure it is good for his / her age and providing needed nutritional value as per the need of the age, for baby growth and development.

Below are the few signs observe in baby, which reflects your baby is ready to eat a variety of solid food with the passage of time, normally it starts from 8 to 10 months age and later on.

  • She or he is keenly interested what we are eating, they try to grab it and make exciting sounds to share your food, in this way they will hold your spoon. If we give them small piece of bread or roti or paratha they will hold it and take into their mouth to eat it
  • She loses the thrust of the tongue they hold a spoon and try to put into their mouth, but you have to be alert or provide them baby spoon which will not harm them.
  • With passage of time and in later age (8-10months) baby will be able to lower lip to have the food given by the spoon.

When you plan to start solid food to the baby either at 6 months or after 4 months, the baby’s digestive tract is still in developing stage, any food you choose to give should be in meager quantity to adjust with body digestive system. This means it should be just given initially for taste and flavor.

What solid food to feed initially and followed in later months.

  • Milk is the ideal, and breast milk is the best source of nutrition. This can be initiated with formula milk.
  • Pureed vegetable or fruits. In vegetable, initially we can give baby sweet potato, potato and in terms of pureed fruits, we can initiate with banana, apple, peaches.

 In later months.

  • We can start with pureed meats such as chicken or beef or mutton.
  • Give baby cereals in liquid form.
  • You can initiate khichri or small quantity rice with lentils (Dal and chawal).
  • Initially, give them one or two spoons of unsweetened yogurt
  • Cow milk is recommended after baby is over one year,

In starting month and later month begin solid food in a very small quantity that is the maximum one teaspoon of mesh food or cereal. Give cereal in the semi-liquid form either using breast milk or formula.

After more than a month from the date when you initiated solid food to the baby, increase the quantity of mesh food or give cereal in breast milk or formula from I teaspoon per day to one spoon in later part of the morning and one teaspoon spoon at evening.

It worries some, what kind of food to introduce first to a baby.

  • Start with single grain cereal such as rice which is easy to give and manage, but it is not essential you can also initiate with purees of vegetable, fruit or meats.
  • You also can start with vegetables, which is good to develop the liking for it as well you can start with fruits purees.
  • Breastfeeding to be continued with all zeal and zest to meet child nutritional need and self -nature provided immunity. Recommended is to breastfeed your baby for 18-24 months.

Article is written by Mahmood Hussain for www.babyfirst.com.pk, Baby First Pakistan for social media such as website, Facebook/babyfirstpk, Linkedin, Twitter and so on.

About Mahmood Hussain

Professional Experience More than 36 years work experience in Healthcare & Pharmaceutical sectorDirector & General Manager Baby First (Pvt.) Ltd Pakistan March 2011 – till to date I have been associated with Baby First (Pvt) Ltd for more than 5 years. It is advisory, community and social interaction medium for parents 16-38 years and babies 0-6 years.General Manager Aga Khan Health Service Pakistasn December 2005 – December 2007 (2 years 1 month)Based at Karachi Pakistan Worked as General Manager managing Karachi & Baluchistan Health care services of AKHSP which includes primary and secondary health care centers and diagnostic centers on all areas nearly 102 centers which include three leading hospitals in Karachi.General Manager Janssen Cilag (Johnson & Johnson) February 1998 – January 2005 (7 years)Education MBA, Marketing 1995 – 1996, Preston University MSc, Biochemistry 1970 – 1974, Karachi University

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