Keeping your baby safe when beginning solid foods

For a new parent, feeding your baby solid foods for the first time can be an intimidating task. This article provides safety tips for keeping meal time pleasant and rewarding for you and your baby.

When your baby is ready to accept solid foods your approach can make this transition smooth and rewarding for your baby. Michigan State University Extension encourages that to begin feeding your baby solid foods, the first step is to sit in front of your baby and face him or her. Offer your baby the spoon and wait to see if they will open their mouth. Do not force the spoon into the baby’s mouth. The baby may not be ready for the food. Once the baby opens their mouth, gently insert the spoon until the baby closes and takes the food. Wait between each spoonful to allow the baby to manage the food in their mouth and swallow.

It is best to use a small spoon with a small amount of food. Some food may come back out of the mouth at first, but as the baby becomes more experienced they will swallow more food with each spoonful. Always approach your baby in a warm and friendly manner when feeding. Watch your baby for signs they are ready to accept the food as well as for signs they are full. You will know they are full when they become less attentive, start refusing the spoon or start pushing the food out of their mouth. 

Do not feed your baby cereal through a bottle or infant feeder. Always feed them cereal with a spoon. A bottle with cereal in it can be a choking hazard and lead to overeating. Always watch the consistency and texture of the food to prevent choking. Assure that the food texture is appropriate to the developmental age of the baby. The United States Department of Agriculture offers a guide to food textures a baby is developmentally ready for titled “How the Infant Meal Pattern Corresponds with Food Textures and Feeding Styles” at the United States Department of Agriculture website.

When the baby is feeding make sure they are placed securely in a high chair and buckled in. Keep the high chair away from objects that the baby could push themselves over with such as a kitchen table or cupboard. Use a small spoon that can fit into the baby’s mouth. Do not use a utensil that can break like a plastic spoon or fork. Place the baby’s food in a small unbreakable bowl or dish that does not have sharp edges. Often times the baby likes to grab at the dishes. Also make sure the food is not too hot for the baby’s mouth or hand. Babies are easily scalded. Keep adult hot liquids such as coffee, far from the baby’s reach.

Feeding your baby can be a special time for parents to work with and bond with their baby. This experience can be rewarding for both the parent and child. With a little planning and forethought the feeding experience can be a safe and pleasant one.

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