When to Introduce Formula Milk
Many mothers who begin weaning their children from breastfeeding use the opportunity to introduce formula milk. However, weaning can still be done with expressed breast milk. Because breast milk is the best food for babies, mothers are advised not to introduce formula unless absolutely necessary.
Formula milk can be introduced at any time after delivery. If the mother is unable to breastfeed for any reason, she can start feeding her child formula milk. Ideally, babies should be breastfed or have a diet of exclusive breast milk till at least six months of age, and then they can be weaned and transferred to formula. For babies who started on formula sooner than six months, they should continue on to formula till they are six months old, and continue to drink formula as part of their regular diet. Before this sixth month period, many babies do not have the required stomach enzymes for processing foods other than milk.
Think of the different types of formula milk available in the market today. Some formula milk is specially designed for babies soon after birth. Your baby may also be gassy or fussy as a side effect of the formula, and in this case your doctor can tell you which milk you can transfer your baby to. Observe your baby while they are on a diet of formula milk, either if they have started their diet entirely on formula or if you switched them to formula from breast milk. Look out for any allergies, decrease in appetite, or loss in weight, and consult your doctor if you observe any of these.
When to Introduce Solids
Introducing solid foods can be an exciting time for both you and your baby. The new flavors are a great experience for them, and this is your opportunity to turn them on to eating many different kinds of healthy foods. Many mothers start their babies on solid foods at the age of six months. Some mothers start earlier if they feel that their baby is developed enough to eat and digest solids.
To be safe, wait until your baby is six months old before introducing solid foods. Waiting this long will ensure you that your baby’s stomach is ready to digest the foods, and it also prevents food allergies from developing. Also, feeding your baby solid foods before they are six months of age, may put them at a higher risk for developing obesity. Though this is not always the case.
Finally, introducing solid foods and other flavors too early may cause your child to reject your breast milk (if you are still breast feeding), and so waiting till they are six months old ensures you that they have enjoyed many of the benefits of breast milk before they started solids.
If you want your baby to start eating solid foods earlier, consult your doctor. They may determine that your child is ready to start eating solids even if they have not yet made the six month mark.
Some of the signs that your baby may be ready to eat solid foods are if they are able to sit up well, even if they need a bit of support. Sitting up is very important to eating solid foods because it prevents choking, and so your baby needs to be able to do this. Next, look out for strong head control. If your baby is able to keep their head steady when upright then this is another indicator that they are ready for solid foods.
Other signs that your baby is ready for solid foods are if they have doubled their birth weight, if they seem interested in what you’re eating, and if they seem hungry after a regular feeding session. Also look out for chewing motions of your baby’s mouth. If they look like they can chew, they may be ready for solids. Chewing motions will simultaneously occur when your baby stops sticking their tongue out as a sign of hunger.
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