Isn’t it a wonderful and relieving feeling that you have successfully crossed the six-month mark with your little bundle of joy? The initial hurdles of learning to breastfeed, setting up a sleep routine and getting a thousand vaccinations done are all over.
You are no longer a novice at parenting and will be eager to witness the next six months, as they will be jam-packed with many important milestones; often, you will feel your only job is to run after the baby pointing a camera to make sure you capture every new activity so that no one else misses it! Well, we hope you don’t forget to enjoy all these firsts yourself.
Weaning To Solid Food:
Weaning means switching an infant’s diet from breast milk and formula milk to solid foods and fluids. Solid food doesn’t mean that the baby can have rice, lentils and vegetables like you do, and he has to be given semi solid food that he can eat easily. When the baby is six months old, he learns to lift his head without any support. He often sticks his tongue out, this sign shows that the baby is ready for solid foods other than mother’s milk.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that the baby should be fed on breast milk till he reaches 6 months, after six months AAP recommends a combination of breast milk and solid foods till the baby becomes one year old. Children under one year shouldn’t be given cow’s milk. Also avoid honey, since it may contain spores that may cause botulism. Infant botulism is a serious illness that is caused when bacteria in the food releases toxins inside the body. This leads to muscle weakness and respiration problems in the baby. So always ask the pediatrician before introducing a new food to the baby.
The Physical Developments of the Baby at 6 Months:
At six months your baby will only gain one pound a month and his height gain will be only half inch each month. Your baby will also learn to sit up alone at 6 months. At the beginning, the baby uses his hand as a support to stand or sit up, but he gradually learns to stand or sit without any support.
The baby learns to roll on his back. He also creeps forward and backward sliding on his tummy or the pushes against the floor for support. The baby often sits on his knee and rocks forward and backward.
Your baby will be smiling, laughing and babbling or calling names. They will be able to recognize people around them and will be afraid of strangers. You can play peek a boo games with your baby and read them stories. You can also scatter toys on the floor so that they learn how to crawl.However, keep small toys away from them since they develop the habit of putting everything into their mouth. It is an ideal time to give your baby teething toys.
The Physical and Motor Skills Taking Place at 6 Months:
- The baby can hold the entire weight of the body while standing.
- Can transfer objects from one hand to another.
- Able to lift chest and head while sleeping on the stomach.
- Able to roll from back to stomach.
- Can pick up an object if dropped.
- Can sit on a high chair with the back straight.
- Can sit on the floor with lower back support.
- Teeth start to appear.
- Babies can sleep for 6 to 8 hours at a stretch.
- The weight of the baby at 6 months should be double the birth weight.
Sensory and Cognitive Development Taking Place in 6 Months:
- The baby is afraid of strangers.
- The baby can imitate actions and sounds.
- Learns to realize that an object needs to be picked up if dropped on the floor.
- The baby can hear voices coming from a distance clearly.
- The baby loves to hear his own voice and often makes babbling noises.
- The sounds resemble one syllable words like ma-ma, ba-ba, and da-da.
- The baby’s vision is between 20/40 to 20/60.
- The baby can recognize his parents.
If the baby doesn’t show these developments at six months, report to the pediatrician immediately.
Why Weaning is Important?
Weaning is often a personal choice. Some babies and their mothers have mixed reactions when it comes to weaning. It is up to you whether you want to wean your baby at six months or stick to breast milk. It is advisable to ask the pediatrician’s advice. At the beginning your child might refuse to eat anything, this can be frustrating for the parents. This is because the child’s digestive system needs time to develop.However, mothers have to keep trying because weaning is essential for the baby.
It is not a problem to continue with breastfeeding, it gives your baby the extra protection from infections. It is worthwhile to wait, especially if your baby is not accepting solid food. Since this saves a lot of time. When the baby is ready to accept solid foods he will have it without giving any trouble. If you start weaning late, it is not a problem, but make sure you don’t skip weaning altogether.
Weaning is highly important because the baby’s reserves of iron (which it built up in the womb) last only forsix months and she now needs more iron. Secondly, the baby’s mental and physical growth is now too rapid to be satisfied with a liquid diet.
As the baby grows up he or she will need extra nutrients and fiber that breast milk alone cannot provide. So, in addition to breast milk, you need to gradually add solid food to your baby’s diet to ensure proper nutrition. Homemade foods are safest for the baby. However, if you need to buy baby food you have to keep these points in mind:
- Check the ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates.
- Always check whether product is sealed properly, never buy if seal is broken because the food can be contaminated.
- Don’t buy if the packet is bloated.
- Always read the labels for nutrient content of the food.
- Don’t buy foods that have added sugars and preservatives in it.
So how will you understand that the baby is ready to accept solid foods? Don’t worry the baby will show signs like:
The baby will hold his head steady while in a sitting position.
The baby tends to pick up any food he likes and puts it straight into his mouth. You will also notice the baby starts eyeing the contents on your plate, this means he or she is ready for solid food.
The baby can swallow their food. Those babies who do not like solid food will spit it out or push it back.So you will find food smeared on the baby’s face.
If the baby chews its fists, wants extra milk feeds or suddenly wakes up at night this doesn’t mean he or she is hungry and wants to start weaning.
Top 10 Ideas for 6 Months Baby Food
Many parents have different opinions regarding weaning, so the practice of introducing solid foods to the baby varies. Also the kind of foods given to the baby also differs. Some people might not agree with the facts presented by the new research. For example, honey and ghee which were earlier thought to be suitable for weaning are now prohibited. Always check with your baby’s pediatrician before introducing your baby to a new food. Here we give you top 10 ideas for your 6 month baby food:
1. Sooji (Vermicelli):
Roasted lightly in an open pan and stored, this is one of the safest options for your 6 months baby foods. It is pure grain, contains no preservatives and, once dry, will not attract bacteria. In fact, this is the first solid you can give to your baby by adding 2 teaspoons to the baby’s bottle. Otherwise you can feed it in the form of a dalia (porridge). But the milk should be powdered baby milk, not cow’s milk.
2. Light Dal (pulses):
Any daal made in a watery or light form with very little spices is good to feed the baby. Boil any dhal and mash the pulse to make a watery pulp and spoon it to your baby. If the baby likes it, you can go on and add a tadka of garlic or cumin seeds (zeera).
Adding foods from the entire food spectrum is important. Introduce your baby to steamed apples, prunes, chikoos and mashed bananas. You can also add peaches and melons to the diet.Peel and scoop out the seeds from the fruit, steam it for about three minutes and mash it to a pulp. Feed the entire fruit once your baby takes a liking to it. However, avoid citrus fruits until the baby is above a year old.
Always give the fruits in mashed or pureed form, never give slices of fruit since the baby might choke.Introduce one fruit at a time and check for any allergic reactions.
Babies can digest simple boiled vegetables like steamed and mashed beetroot, sweet potato, potato and carrot. You can enhance the taste by adding salt and pepper to it.You can also give green peas, carrots, potato and beans.
This is an important thing that your baby should be introduced to. Offer the baby water in a bottle at least 3 times in the day. Ensure that the bottle and water are thoroughly boiled.
Never put your baby to sleep with a bottle in his mouth because this can cause tooth decay. Also discuss with the pediatrician how much water should the baby be consuming daily.
One of the safest 6 months old baby food, homemade curd or yoghurt is full of probiotics and calcium and is light on the baby’s digestion. Add sugar or salt to enhance the taste.
Boiled and mashed rice is good for your baby. Feeding rice to the baby is a great way to introduce your baby to cereal grains. Boiled rice is rich in carbohydrates and some commercial varieties are fortified with iron as well. You can mix boiled rice with dhal or mashed vegetables once your baby gets used to the taste.
Freshly squeezed fruit juice of pomegranate and apple can be introduced to the baby as soon as he or she reaches the 6 months. Do refrain from giving her citrus fruit juice until she is a year old. If the baby develops indigestion, completely eliminate the juices from the diet.
9. Iron-fortified Meals:
Commercially available cereals are actually good for the baby’s health, though many mothers will not agree with this fact. Not only are they extremely hygienic, but also contain vital iron. If the baby is given home cooked food, you might overcook it and damage the iron or you may pick a food that is not rich in iron at all. By doing this, you deprive the baby of iron which is crucial for mental and cognitive development. Therefore, adding an iron fortified cereal to the baby’s diet is a great idea.
Initially offer your baby cereals twice a day. You should give one or two tablespoons of dry cereals to the baby without adding formula milk powder. Then gradually increase the servings to 3-4 tablespoons. Once the child is eating cereals daily add the iron fortified cereals to the diet.
10. Commercial Milk Powders:
If you are feeding your baby infant formula, you may be confused which brand of formula milk to choose. Before knowing which brand of formula milk is the best, let us study the different kinds of formula milk available in the market. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the infant formula milk can be categorized under: cow’s milk formula, Soy based formula and protein hydrolysate formula.
Most babies have cow’s milk formula because they find it easy to digest and it is rich in nutrients. Those babies allergic to animal protein present in the cow’s milk formula have to eat soy based formula. If the baby can’t digest either soy or cow’s milk formula they have to eat protein hydrolysate formula milk. The protein is hydrolyzed or broken down into smaller parts, so the babies can digest this milk powder easily.The commercial formula milk contains all the nutrients that the infant requires which is not present in cow’s milk. The formula milk is available in a concentrated liquid form and ready to use powder form.
The baby needs an iron fortified milk powder that helps him in his growth process. Many infant formulas have docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) in them, these are Omega 3 Fatty Acids present in breast milk, fish and eggs. Omega 3 fatty acids help in the child’s brain and eyesight development. Some infant formulas even have a probiotic substance that helps to grow healthy bacteria inside the baby’s intestines. The probiotic milk formula resembles breast milk and provides immunity to the baby. At six months the baby should have 28-45 ounces of formula milk.
Choosing healthy food for 6 months baby is very easy now. You can make all kinds of combinations once you are sure your baby is not allergic to any food. If the food tastes good to your palate, then there are high chances that your baby too will like it.
As a mother you can introduce healthy eating habits.This doesn’t mean that you will not introduce yummy finger foods to your child, but give outside food in moderation. Your baby will emulate your actions so you have to eat healthy foods as well. You can tell stories or play nursery rhymes while feeding your baby, and fix a time for feeding. The baby will slowly understand that now is the meal time and he will eat the food properly without creating a fuss.
Enjoy watching your baby grow, this is the time when bonds of relationship is cemented between the parents and the baby.