After the initial 6 months of either exclusive breastfeeding or formula feeding and/breastfeeding, it’s time to introduce complimentary meals. Here is your complete guide.
Synonyms of complementary include harmonious, supportive, interdependent, compatible, matching and balancing. Therefore, complementary foods should be in tandem with solids until a child is at least a year old; they should be given alongside breastmilk and/ formula. Remember, other foods are being introduced because breastmilk and/ formula alone can no longer nutritionally serve babies. So, breastfeeding and bottle-feeding should be continued.
A 6-8-month-old baby still needs about 32-36oz of formula/breastmilk in a 24 hour period while a 9-12 months old need about 24-32oz of formula/breastmilk daily.
There are no hard and fast rules for baby’s first foods. From about 4-6months old, start adding 1 teaspoon of single-grain cereal to 4-5 teaspoons of breastmilk or formula. Once the baby gets used to swallowing that without much ado, thicken it by using less breastmilk, water or adding more cereal.
From 4-8 months, start giving pureed veggies, fruits and meats. Then, from 6-8 months, begin to give single-ingredient finger foods as babies enjoy self-feeding. Just ensure foods are not hard or raw. From 9-12 months, as soon as your child can, transition the child from smooth purees to more finger foods and textured mash.
Avoid giving your child honey till they are 1+. Early introduction can cause botulism (a serious illness caused by a toxin which causes paralysis). Also, let your child be a year old at least, before giving cow milk. Even then, make sure it is whole cow milk: Lower-fat milks (2%, 1% and skim) and fortified soy beverage are not recommended before 2 years of age due to their reduced fat content. Do not give popcorn, nuts etc.; they are prone to choking an infant.
Remember, there is no hard and fast rule to this! Also, you know your child best and will know whether she or he is ready for what food or not.