Sunday, November 8, 2009

When are infants ready for solid food?

So our pediatrician gave us the go ahead to start giving Nate solid foods. I wanted to understand what was behind that recommendation. The main things that doctor was looking for was the following:
  • Loss of tongue-thrust reflex
  • Able to turn away (saying he is full)
  • Hold head up unassisted (and sit up)

I trust our pediatrician, but when major organizations (AAP/CDC/WHO) keep recommending nothing but breast milk (or formula) until 6 months I have wonder at least a little.

Doing some research it seems as if it is difficult to really tell if a four month old has enough gastrointestinal maturity to handle solid food or not. At four months many infants still have what is considered an open gut. With an open gut an infants intestines could allow things into bloodstream that would stay in intestine with mature gut.

So while I don't believe we could do much harm by experimenting with some simple foods we'll certainly make breast milk his primary source of nutrition. We are in no hurry and we'll probably wait til fifth month to try some solid foods. At some point we'll probably experiment with some foods like rice, oats, bananas, or avocado. Those are some of the common first foods for infants.

Kellymom had a good list on introducing foods at six months and 12 months.

There are many reasons that 6 months of age is the "magical" age for introducing solids, here are a few

* Baby's intestines should be fully "closed"
* Babies are less likely to aspirate foods
* Baby is better able to recognize that she is full and regulate how much she needs to eat
* Baby is able to indicate she is full by turning away from food
* Baby should be have fully developed head control and be able to sit up with minimal assistance
* Baby has had breast milk or formula during the crucial first 6 months of life; giving him the healthiest start with optimal nutrients

There are many reasons that 12 months of age is the "magical" age for introducing "forbidden" solids; here are a few:

* Baby's system is less likely to think that foreign proteins, like the egg protein, need to be considered invaders and fought off. Creating an allergy is considerably reduced in older infants
* Baby has been sensitized to a variety of foods and allergies are less likely to be induced
* Baby's development is such that some forbidden foods, cow's milk for example, will not adversely affect health
* Baby's gastrointestinal system is better able to process pathogens, such as botulism spores in honey.


1 comment:

  1. The first thing to remember is that it's your baby. It's your choice to do what you feel is right for your child. Take what you want from wherever you want. Take bits and pieces from here and there. You'll realize what works best for your kid.

    We started introducing cereal to the kids at 4 months. Then five months it was veggies and at six it was fruits. This was all at the support from our pediatrician. The reason for the veggies first is that the kids are going to love the sweet stuff, so get them on the veggies first.

    With this last child, we introduced "real food" early on. Probably at 9 months. We just mashed up what we were eating. Three babies is a lot and so is the food. It was more financial than anything and she's taken to it great. No stomach problems or bad gas.

    Take that what you want. This coming from a dad of only 4 years, the food doesn't hurt to be introduced around 4 months.

    But then again, it's your kid.

    Hope it all works out..