Introducing solids, when, what, how much are the vital questions for a first time mom..
To begin with
My tryst with solid feeds started at the age of 5 months or in fact the day the kid finished 4 months and entered 5th.. a pinch of mashed banana it was, and strained dal water, especially moong dal as it is easier to digest.
Reason to Start
Continuing the baby too long on just bottle/breast feed results in iron deficiency was the one sentence which got me running to solids prior to which I was a little averse to starting. Oficially in AP, we start solids on 6th month 6th day with a ceremony called Anna prasana and until then we don't give rice to the kid and from the day we initiate the kid on it, not a single day should go without at least a rice grain in the baby's mouth :).
For the Starters
So, starting with dal water along with the milk feeds, then introducing mashed ripe banana taking out the seeds, and cereal (store-brought). I personally started with Farex available in India, wheat because I am told that it is easy to digest. We get Wheat, Rice, Wheat/Apple, Ragi/Rice for Stage 1 that is starters in this particular brand. I began with wheat, 1 scoop a day only in the mornings and then continuing with normal feeding throughout the day. After 15 days of introducing the cereal, increased the quantity and went on to 2 times a day 2-3 scoops and gradually introducing one flavor after the other.
Alternating Cereal Flavors
All the while we need to look at the baby's cues on what and how much she wants to. Also, if you have started on multiple flavors, it is recommended that you alternate between the flavors so that the kid doesnt get bored, like say ragi/rice in the morning, 'cos it is a little heavy, rice in the evening or wheat apple in the morning and wheat in the evening or maybe we can go to 3 feeds of cereal also, just depends on you and the baby.
Fruits and Veggies
Then gradually introduced mashed banana, cooked apple, ripe papaya, cooked carrot, cooked beetroot, etc. for solids and fruit juices just less than an ounce to begin with like carrot juice, beetroot juice, pomegranate juice. There was resistance but we just need to keep altering between solids/liquids/milk and keep their interest that is it :(. It is advised to start veggies first and then the fruits..
Then when the official meal is started I began with frying Toor Dal and Moong Dal in equal measures and rice like say 1 cup both toor dal and moong daal and 1 cup rice and grind it to a course consistency of rava and then cook it in a small pressure cooker 1 spoon:4 spoons ratio of mix and water, leaving for about 5 to 6 whistles, adding carrots/green leafy veggies/beets/bottle gourd etc.
After we start the rice items in about 6th month we can give all Indian Breakfasts like Idly dipped in ghee, chapati cooked with ghee, chapati dipped in milk/formula, rava kesari, upma, etc. Also, khichdi, saggu jaava, raagi recipes. The portions they take will be small but gradually they should be introduced to all consistencies and textures of foods. It is ideal that we start with veggies first and then move on to fruits.
Avoid Maggie, etc. in the first year of life due to MSG content.
Milk and Solids
The big question is... how do we adjust between milk and solids... there will be a change in the milk intake with introduction of wide variety of foods and also a change in the color/consistency/smell/frequency of the stool which is pretty much normal. However, give some gap of a week or so before introducing new foods or new combination to figure out if the kid is allergic to anything that is started and let them get used to the new changes.
Coming to the milk part, there will be a gradual cut down in the intake but ensure that the kid is having at least 15 to 20 oz of milk throughout the entire day. Give small quantities of milk in frequent intervals if the intake has gone down drastically instead of trying to give the usual 5-7 oz per feed.
Introduce water too with the solid feeds with a spoon or a bottle, very little to begin with and a little more as the kid grows up. Ensure that the kid is fed both solids and liquids in equal portions and has a well-balanced serving of fruits and veggies along with milk and water on any given day.
Cookies and Biscuits
We can also give multigrain biscuits, Threptin biscuits (in India), sugar-less cookies, bread soaked in milk/formula as mid-meal snacks once the kid is about 7 months old.
small portions in frequent intervals is the best way is what I am told.
Do not force the kid to the point of aversion on any particular feed, if the kid is totally averse or has a dislike to something give it a break for a while and begin your attempts but by and large force just works the other way round and tends to make the kids adamant.
Also for the beginners, like at the age of 5 months when I started the solids, I found this very useful item called a Nibbler in the baby store, a mesh with a handle where in we can cut fruits like apple or even chapati and put it in the nibbler and give it to the kid to chew on, make sure you get 2 in case one falls down.
The one I got is of brand Nuby with non-toxic BPA free plastic and costs around 400 rs/- from Brooks, Mogalraja puram, Vijayawada. Sunbaby ones cost around 135/- and are good too. Must say, it is a boon to begin with so that the kids do not choke on the solids, it also acts as a soother and satisfies the kids urge to chew on something while sending in some fruit juice/pulp into the mouth which kind of teaches the coordination of biting, sucking, chewing and gulping it down. Absolute paisa-vasool item I must say for the beginners.