By the time your baby is four to six months old, you’ve likely perfected breastfeeding or formula nursing techniques. But don’t relax too much; your youngster will eventually be able to eat “real” food.
Complementary feeding or introducing solids to children can cause many conflicting feelings. You could experience mixed emotions when your baby transitions to the next stage of life, including happiness over the newfound mobility you can both appreciate and grief.
We’ll go over the four stages of complementary feeding and how to make the process easier for you and your baby.
What is complementary feeding?
Complementary feeding is a normal developmental period for your infant. Giving your infant other foods while still breastfeeding is a gradual process that requires a lot of patience and understanding from both sides.
It’s normal to feel hesitant about letting go of nursing your baby once they reach a certain age. Continue breastfeeding the baby until they turn two years. However, you should know that as babies grow older, their nutritional requirements go beyond what breastfeeding provides.
Is your baby ready for complementary feeding?
Six months is the advised age to introduce infants to new food and develop their cognitive skills. Most medical organisations like WHO, ICMR, and IAP advise that infants start eating solids at six months. Since babies at this age begin requiring supplementary nutrients such as iron and zinc, which are present in human milk but not in adequate quantity.
The four stages of complementary feeding
Parents can adopt the four stages of complementary feeding to make their baby gradually more comfortable with the process. The four stages are:
|Stage 1||6 months
(Not earlier than 6 months)
|Pureed food, smooth texture||Fruits, veggies, rice, potatoes, meat, yogurt, and custard (gluten-free, before six months)|
|Stage 2||6-9 months||Lumpy puree, small finger foods may be introduced||Fruits, veggies, rice, potatoes, meat, fish, yogurt, cheese, custard, pulses, eggs, bread, and cereal|
|Stage 3||9-12 months||Mashed, chopped, minced food; more finger food||Fruits, veggies, rice, potatoes, meat, fish, yogurt, cheese, custard, pulses, eggs, bread, and cereal|
|Stage 4||12+ months||Normal family food mashed or chopped; more varieties of finger food||Fruits, veggies, rice, potatoes, meat, fish, yogurt, cheese, custard, pulses, eggs, bread, and cereal|
Signs your baby is ready for complementary feeding
Some kids are happy to nurse continuously. Others, however, will provide their mothers hints that they are prepared to start the complementary feeding phase, like
- Appearing unconcerned or restless during nursing.
- Ability to sit straight and raise their heads.
- Quicker breastfeeding durations than before.
- Being inquisitive and observant about everything, including what you eat.
- Absence of forcing food out of their mouths with tongue movement.
- Comfort nursing (sucking at the breast without drinking the milk).
Your baby’s feeding abilities will improve as they grow and learn. However, they must always eat while sitting up, secured in a child seat, and under adult supervision. Ensure to give your baby a range of healthful foods so they can experience a variety of flavours and textures. Don’t get frustrated if they don’t like a particular item at first. Happy complementary feeding!