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  • Can Babies Start Eating Solids at 4 Months Old?

    Babies' nutritional needs differ based on their growth rate and the amount of breast milk they consume.
    by Rachel Perez .
Can Babies Start Eating Solids at 4 Months Old?
PHOTO BY @marianrivera/Instagram and Instagram Story
  • On August 23, 2019, Marian Rivera shared on her social media accounts that her son, Ziggy, had just had a taste of pureed broccoli. The little boy just turned four months old last August 16, 2019. The photo was also posted on Marian’s official Facebook page.

    “Mama I want more broccoli please,” Marian wrote on her Instagram Story as a made-up dialogue for Ziggy’s facial expression — he was about to cry — after finishing his meal. “Anak, may bukas pa!” the mom of two wrote as her reply. Marian’s post elicited “cute and gwapo” comments about Ziggy and praises for Marian feeding her son healthy food.

    But some comments raised questions about Marian’s decision to introduce solid food to Ziggy this early, at only four months. A few also criticized her choice of giving pureed broccoli as her son's first solid food. Others questioned her dedication to her breastfeeding advocacy — all of which prompted Marian to release a statement on Instagram.

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    “Bagamat nakapagsimula ako ng solids kay Ziggy sa mga nakaraang araw base sa payo ng aming pediatrician, wala akong plano na ihinto ang aking pagiging padedemom sa aking bunso,” Marian, who remains committed to promoting breastfeeding awareness, wrote as a caption for a nursing photo with her son.

    But the mom of two also had a few requests: “Nawa’y sa adbokasiyang eto ay hindi tayo makasakit ng damdamin ng mga kapwa natin ina,” Marian said. “Nawa’y hindi gamitin ang pangalan ko sa mga kumento at mensahe na humuhusga sa pagbigay ko ng masustansyang gulay sa aking anak,” she added.

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    “Lahat po tayong ina ay gusto lamang ang ‘best’ sa kanyang anak. Hanggat kaya ko ay lalaban ako bilang #padedemom,” Marian stressed.

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    When should babies start eating solid foods

    Marian encouraged her fellow moms to follow the infant-feeding recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). This includes exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months, before introducing complementary foods.

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    The WHO recommends starting babies on solids at 6 to 8 months old. Its Guiding Principles for Complementary Feeding of Breastfed Child explains that introducing solids foods too early may lead to less frequent nursing sessions and a decrease in the intensity of the baby’s sucking reflex. Both may lead to less intake of breast milk.

    But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in its Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know, a nutrition and feeding guide book for both breastfed and formula-fed infants, recognizes that 4-month-old babies may already show signs of readiness for eating solids. These include:

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    • Your baby must have good head control and can already hold his head up
    • Your baby opens his mouth when you offer him food, or starts reaching for food and looks eager to be fed
    • Your baby must know how to swallow. It’s normal for babies to push food out of his mouth the first few times you feed him solids. The AAP suggests diluting your baby’s meal with breast milk first, or wait a week or two before trying again.
    • Your baby must weigh at least double his birth weight or weigh around 13 pounds or more.

    Do not force your baby to eat or finish his meal. The WHO stressed that each child’s nutritional needs are different, which can be affected by the amount of breast milk he consumes, and his growth rate. Remember to always consult your child’s pediatrician first before introducing solids to your baby.

    What first foods to give babies who are starting solids

    The AAP stressed that there aren’t any strict guidelines as to what order you should follow when starting solids. Feel free to experiment with different foods (even yogurt, eggs, fish, and peanuts, among others) that vary in taste and texture, but give your baby just one new food to try at a time. Doctors strongly advice against adding salt or sugar to baby’s first meals.

    The WHO recommends starting 6- to 8-month-old babies with two solid food meals daily, with a serving of only two to three tablespoons per meal. Other parents, like Divine Lee Go, upon the advice of the pediatrician, started their babies younger than 6 months with tinier amounts, e.g., only a tablespoon once a day.

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    Click here to know more about experts’ recommendations and guidelines on starting babies on solid foods. For baby food recipes you can make at home, click here.

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