Complementary Food Transition Guide: When and How?

The transition to solid food is one of the processes that mothers are most excited about and filled with question marks. If you are in the process of starting solid food with your baby and you want to know more about what you need to do and to eliminate the question marks in your mind one by one, you can read this guide.

When to switch to supplementary food?

Let’s talk about when to switch to solid food in babies. The best time that experts recommend for your baby to start solid food is the 6th month period. Because in this process;

  • Your baby’s movements increase,
  • Their physical development is accelerated,
  • It needs vitamins, fiber and other nutrients that are not in breast milk,
  • He is interested in other foods and tries to reach out and take it.

Also;

  • Loss of tongue sticking reflex
  • Beginning to sit with support
  • Grasping objects with his fingers and starting to bring them to his mouth,
  • Developments such as the increase in reflexes such as gnawing or biting also indicate that it is time for the baby to start additional food.
  1. If the baby is taking breast milk until the month of birth, he does not need any extra nutrition. But by 6 months, he will need more nutrients. However, if the following situations occur, the doctor may determine an earlier time for the baby to start the transition to solid food.
  • If your milk is low and your baby is formula-fed,
  • If your baby’s weight gain is low,
  • If you have iron deficiency
  • If he starts to feel hungry more often and reacts to the food he sees, additional food can be started at the end of the 5th month.

What are the harms of starting solid food before or after the time?

Knowing the right time to start solid food is very important. It will be very beneficial for her development to start making nutritional supplements that her baby will need at the right time. However, there are some disadvantages to introducing your baby to solid food before or after this time.

If you introduced your baby to solid food before 6 or 5 months, you are likely to experience problems such as:

  • Since organs such as the stomach and intestines and the enzymes in these organs have not developed enough, they may experience digestive problems. In particular, enzymes to break down fat and starch components are not secreted sufficiently.
  • The additional food you give early increases the solid load on your baby’s body and the amount of sodium and urea accumulated in his kidneys. This reduces the amount of fluid in your baby’s body.
  • During the transition to solid food, since your baby is accustomed to sucking, the food you give pushes the tongue, that is, it cannot benefit from the nutrients.
  • Starting solid foods early can have adverse effects on the baby’s development.
  • The likelihood of experiencing a food allergy increases.

The harms of starting solid food late are as follows;

  • Iron deficiency is the most common problem experienced by babies who are started late to solid food.
  • In this process, he may experience developmental disorders because he cannot get other nutrients needed.
  • Weight gain is less.

For such reasons, the time to switch to the first additional food should be from the 6th month.

How should the transition to additional food be?

The time has come and you will introduce your baby to complementary foods. We know you’re excited. However, you will need to proceed cautiously and patiently in this process. Your baby will suddenly be introduced to new foods. Therefore, it may take some time to adapt to these foods. There are some points that you should pay attention to in the process of starting solid food:

  • First of all, you need to choose the right foods to introduce your baby to complementary foods. These foods should be soft, non-allergenic foods.
  • You can start with foods such as puree first and then switch to more solid foods to improve the chewing reflex. Giving puree and liquid food constantly prevents the baby’s chewing reflex from sitting. You can research the subject of BLW (baby-led feeding), which is a method you can follow during the transition to complementary foods on this subject. In BLW, babies are fed with solid but soft foods, with their own efforts, and their motor development is also supported.
  • Gradually start introducing new foods to your baby. So instead of trying new foods at every meal in the early days, offer a new food for one meal of the day.
  • Don’t force your baby. It may be difficult for him to meet a new food. Don’t give up because he doesn’t eat, but don’t pressure him to eat either.

What should be the first foods in the list of transition to complementary foods?

“What should be given to the baby first in the transition to solid food?” Let’s answer the question. Fruit and vegetable purees are ideal for a start. However, you should not choose vegetables and fruits with very distinctive tastes. It is better to start with vegetables that have pure taste first, because when the baby gets the delicious taste of fruits, he may refuse vegetables. We gave a few examples of vegetables you can give to start. You can review the supplementary food table below.

Complementary food starter vegetables
Potatoes: You can mash potatoes and make soup. But it can cause constipation, so keep the amount small.
Zucchini: One of the vegetables that are least likely to cause allergies! You can prefer it especially in summer, your baby can digest it easily.
Pumpkin: It is one of the most favorite vegetables of babies with its fibrous structure. You can offer zucchini in soup and puree to your baby. Among the supplementary food dishes, these are the most preferred ones.
Carrot: You can also use carrots in purees and soups. The color of each dish the carrot enters will enchant your baby! You can also give the carrot by steaming it and softening it.
Peas: You can serve peas in puree form. We recommend making the puree by crushing it in a wire strainer due to the possibility of gas formation.
Jerusalem artichoke: With its slightly sweet taste, you can give the Jerusalem artichoke as a puree on its own, or you can add it to soups and other purees to provide a variety of flavors.

He ate and drank so many vegetables. Shouldn’t your baby’s mouth taste a bit too? We came to supplementary food, the safest and most delicious fruits you can give your baby at the beginning!

Complementary food starter fruits
Apple: One of the most risk-free fruits of the transition to complementary foods. Easy to digest and less likely to have an allergy patch. You can find the apple in summer and winter, you can give it in the form of puree.
Pear: Pear, which fights with constipation thanks to its deliciousness and working the digestive system, is one of the favorite complementary foods of mothers.
Banana: Banana is one of the favorite complementary foods! It is easily mashed and babies love its taste. However, there is a risk of constipation, keep the rate low.
Avocado: Avocado is said to contain the most beneficial fats that are closest to breast milk. Avocado is a fruit that babies should eat and it mashes easily. It may be heavy for your baby alone, you can mix it with other fruits.
Peaches: You can give peaches to your baby, especially if he has constipation problems. But be careful to give the peach in season!

So, will this baby always eat fruit and vegetables? Apart from these, do you wonder what are the heroes of the adventure of transition to supplementary food in babies? So first, let’s talk about the grains you can include in your supplement list!

  • Rice: Rice is one of the main protagonists of soups and vegetable purees. It is also used as a thickener thanks to the starch it contains.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a suitable cereal for breakfast and snacks for babies. You can provide a nutritious and satisfying meal by cooking oats with water and adding fruit to it.
  • It is more appropriate to use whole wheat flour as a flour at the beginning. You can make pancakes with whole wheat flour, your baby will love to eat it. This alternative is perfect for breakfast!
  • Eggs and cow’s milk products are foods that can cause an allergic reaction. Therefore, it would be correct to wait until the 8th month to give these foods to your baby. Until this time, it would be better if you prefer unsalted goat cheese and curd cheese as cheese. In addition, yogurt should be fermented at home with goat’s milk.

After presenting the ingredients we have listed in the form of puree, soup and finger food in the 6th and 7th months, you can present them in a more solid form.

What to do if the baby refuses solid food?

You gave your baby the first solid food, but he didn’t want to eat, he vomited, got angry, cried, and started getting stubborn. You too, many mothers say, “My baby is refusing solid food.” You can make a complaint.

It is very possible for babies to refuse solid food. The important thing here is to be patient and not force the baby. Even you have a hard time adopting a flavor you just met, why shouldn’t your baby have a hard time? These new foods have different taste and structure compared to breast milk. You can try the following ways to better adapt it to this process:

  • Don’t force your baby. If the baby hasn’t eaten all of his food, it’s not that he’s undernourished; It means he’s getting enough nutrition.
  • Keep spoons small. When giving a spoonful of food to your baby, you should give as much as he can taste with the tip of the spoon instead of trying to fill the spoon fully and stuff it into his mouth.
  • Don’t be stubborn with your baby. If you gave the food, it tasted but didn’t want to eat it, maybe it isn’t ready to receive it yet. Instead of trying to force him to eat it, you should set this food aside so he can taste it again later.
  • Don’t go over a favorite food. The baby will prefer to eat fruits more than vegetables due to their taste. However, if you constantly give him puree because he likes it, he will not want to eat vegetables after this sweet taste. Maybe you can try combining fruits and vegetables. In this way, he gets both flavors at the same time.
  • If he doesn’t want to eat with a spoon, let him explore it himself. Find your fingers, grasp, bite. It may be more enjoyable for him to start this business on his own.
  • Sit in the highchair. If he can sit unassisted, sitting in the highchair and eating will give him much more pleasure.

How is food allergy detected in the supplementary food period?

Food or food allergy is a situation in which the body shows various reactions due to the perception of a food entering the body as a foreign substance by the immune system. If your baby is allergic to a food, some symptoms begin to appear within an average of 1-3 hours from the time the food is taken into the body. Among these symptoms;

  • Diarrhea,
  • Vomiting,
  • itchy skin rashes,
  • Eczema,
  • There are conditions such as shortness of breath and cough. If symptoms such as shortness of breath and bruising occur, immediate intervention is required.

The foods with the most allergic reactions are:

  • Cow milk,
  • Egg,
  • Fish,
  • Strawberry,
  • Peanut,
  • Tomatoes,
  • Orange, lemon, tangerine.

To see if your baby is allergic to these foods, you can give him a small piece and watch if he will react within 3 days. This method, called the 3-day rule, is very useful in transitioning to additional food in infants.

Food allergies, which are generally seen in infants during the transition to complementary foods, can completely disappear with a certain age. For example, milk and strawberry allergies decrease after the age of 3 in most children. However, some allergies are life-long and dangerous. Examples of these are peanut and broad bean allergy.

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