Parents always tell us that raising an infant can be a rewarding (and fun!) experience, but one that also comes with its fair share of difficulties One of these will be introducing solid foods to your baby when the time is right. If you’ve reached this milestone, then congratulations! You’re in for an exciting journey ahead which will involve a lot of trial and error, tantrums during mealtimes, spitting out food (on your baby’s part), and deep sighs of frustration (on your part!), especially if your child is a picky eater.
But not to worry - at myPediaclinic, we understand how challenging this process can be for you and your baby, and we’re here to help!
The right time to start the process
The first step to introducing new, solid foods to picky eaters is to know when your child is ready for this milestone. In our experience, we’ve observed that it’s common for babies to be ready for solid foods when they’re approximately five to six months old, as it’s around this time that they can sit up with their heads unsupported. For some babies the right age might be slightly earlier at four months or slightly later at seven or eight months. You might also notice them reaching for and grabbing objects and putting them in their mouth. Another key consideration before introducing your child to solid foods is to wait until they’ve reached at least twice their birth weight.
Every baby’s journey will be different and our chief pediatric nutritionist, Ms. Yasmine Haddad, recommends that you bring your child in to our pediatric clinic in Dubai for a consultation to better understand whether or not your baby is ready to be introduced to solid foods.
Is your baby a picky eater?
If your child is a picky eater then you will have to approach introducing solid foods to them in a different way.
Look out for the following signs:
Your child frequently spits out different types of foods.
They turn their head away from the spoon when you bring it near their mouth.
They push the spoon away.
They become fussy during meal times.
However, remember that these are also symptoms of having gas, being full or feeling distracted, during meal time. They may also be unwell. Therefore, make sure to stick to a proper feeding schedule and head over to our pediatric clinic in Dubai if you suspect your child is being uncharacteristically picky because of an illness.
6 tips to follow when getting started
Try following these 6 tips to successfully get your picky eater-in-chief to start eating a variety of solid foods during mealtime:
Start by introducing healthy, low-sugar purees to your baby before giving them small finger foods, such as chopped fruit slices, etc. This is because babies are naturally inclined to like sweet foods and it’s important to gradually train their palates to accept other flavors such as sour, pungent, bitter, etc.
Take it slow and introduce one food and flavor at a time. Don’t rush the process and overwhelm your infant’s palate by bombarding them with different food flavours, textures, and smells. Trust us, it won’t end well (in other words, it’ll end up on the floor).
Don’t force feed anything. It’s important that you understand your baby’s different cues during feedings and not force them to eat after they’ve had enough. Once your baby is full, they’ll start turning their head away or push the spoon away to tell you that they’ve had enough, even if they seemingly didn’t eat much. If you continue to force them to eat from that point onwards, they may associate discomfort with the food you’re forcing in their mouth, which will just exacerbate their picky eating habits.
Follow a good meal time schedule. It’s important to have scheduled meal times daily of the right length. You shouldn’t rush your baby’s meal times nor should you let them go on for too long. Avoid the temptation of letting your picky eater eat for as long as they like. You should also schedule their meal time with your family’s meal times so that your baby can model your eating habits.
Minimize distractions in order to help your child focus on their food entirely. This will also help you keep the length of their meal times in check.
Be patient and let your child participate. You should realize that your baby is seeing and eating different things for the first time. It’s a good idea to first let them touch the food and smell it. If they try to eat it themselves, let them. Let your child take control regardless of the mess they make while in control. You should also not give up on introducing a certain type of solid food after a handful of tries. Your child may need to be exposed to and try a solid food item 10 or more times before they start accepting it or, if you’re lucky, even enjoying it!
Ease the process with myPediaclinic
It’s also important to understand which foods to introduce first to your child and which foods to avoid. You must also be aware of whether your child is allergic to any food items. This is where bringing in our experienced child nutritionist at our pediatric clinic in UAE can be a huge benefit to you and your family. We recommend you keep in touch with us throughout the process to craft the best and most nutritious diet for your child as both of you navigate through the rocky terrain of solid foods.
If you have any questions, feel free to call us or pop into one of the most celebrated pediatric clinics in UAE for a consultation.