My Baby – Week 18
Your baby is becoming stronger and stronger each week. You may even find that, by week 18, your baby can sit up unsupported for some time. If not, no need to worry, he will soon. Placing pillows at his sides to bolster him in this position may help him build the appropriate muscles, if he hasn’t already.
Is it time for solid foods?
You may have suspected over the last couple of weeks that the time for solid food was approaching. In fact, you may have noticed your little one becoming more and more interested in what is on your plate. Your baby’s pediatrician may have even mentioned it at your last visit. It is generally recommended to introduce solid foods between four and six months, or when she has doubled her birth weight. More important than your child’s age however, is her ability to control her head in an upright position, as well as the ability to sit upright when supported. Your baby may also give you cues that he or she is ready to start solids, such as following your eating with interest, reaching for a spoon, or opening his mouth to mimic you.
Where do I start?
Most pediatricians recommend beginning your infant on rice cereal. Rice cereal is gluten-free and is less allergenic than other foods containing gluten, like cereals made with wheat or oats. It’s recommended that you start small and slow. Begin with a once-a-day feeding, in which you feed your baby his regular meal of breast milk or formula, and add one or two teaspoons or dry cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. Using a rubber-tipped spoon specially made for babies, place a tiny bit of semi-liquid cereal on the end of the spoon.
If your baby isn’t sure about what to do with the spoon, let her smell or taste the cereal. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day; it may take more than a couple of meals to acclimate your baby to solid foods. Some babies don’t have the ability to keep food in their mouths because they still have their extrusion reflex. The extrusion reflex, or “tongue thrust” reflex, is a primary reflex and is still present if her tongue thrusts out of her mouth whenever her lips are touched.
Once it becomes apparent that your infant is okay with these one or two teaspoons of semi-liquid cereal once a day, increase the amount slightly. Also, use less breast milk or formula to gradually thicken the consistency of the cereal, and add another feeding to your daily routine.
How should I introduce foods other than rice cereal?
It is best to introduce other foods slowly, and one food at a time. This is a great way to find out whether or not your child has any food allergies. If you introduce more than one food at once, and your child has a reaction, it will be hard to know which food is causing the problem. If you have a family history of food allergies, it is actually recommended that you wait a whole week between introducing new foods. The AAP no longer advises that parents only introduce vegetables first, so feel free to start with whatever food you are comfortable with. Pureed vegetables and fruits are easy to make at home, or you can choose an all-natural, organic variety that is pre-made.
How to spot a food allergy
If, after introducing a new food, your infant develops a rash, has diarrhea, has a bloated tummy, or increased gas, a food allergy could definitely be to blame. Below, you can find some other signs of food allergies.
- Red scaly rashes or hives on face, around anus, or other body parts
- Swollen hands or feet
- Dark under-eye circles
- Sneezing, coughing, wheezing, congestion, or a runny nose
- Poor weight gain
- Irritability or hyperactivity
If your child has any of these symptoms after the introduction of a new food, it’s best to speak with his pediatrician to find out what the next step is.. Depending on your child’s reaction, the doctor may recommend challenging your baby with the problematic food again, or the doctor may ask to eliminate this new food from your child’s diet for a certain amount of time. In some cases, blood work may also be ordered to help solve the mystery of your baby’s symptoms.