By Sara Chana, IBCLC
Babies will become orally curious between 5-7 months but that does not mean breastfeeding babies are hungry. Until babies have teeth to chew food properly breastfeeding babies do not need to eat solids. Since breastmilk supplies all the vitamins and nutrients a baby needs, women all over the world can exclusively breastfeed their babies till the child well over one year of age. Most successfully nursing babies can totally bypass the ‘smushy’ food stage and when ready, can jump right into finger food. If babies are beginning to reach for food while parents are eating it’s just because they are curious! They are just wondering what their parents are ‘into.’ They want to explore the world orally, but do not need to fill their tummies up with food. This curiosity is a normal stage of development, and babies just need to explore the world through with their mouths. I always teach moms that if they put a delicious cookie and an exciting toy car on the baby’s high chair table the child may taste the cookie, but the car would me more exciting for the child to ‘taste.’
Don’t confuse exploration with hunger – help your child get the most from this developmental time. When babies begin to really become curious about food, somewhere between 9-14 months, begin with different ‘poo-poo platters.’ Give them a plate with different colors, tastes, and textures. Allow the child to get dirty with the food just as you would paints. Let them explore the tastes, smells and sensations and take pleasure in knowing that your child is stimulating different parts of his brain. This phase of discovery does not last too long and at some point children really do want to eat solids but if the child is nursing well, than consuming a lot of solids is not important untill after 14 months. And, don’t worry about the child learning ‘wrong habits’ at the table; you will have plenty of time later to teach your child ‘good table manners.’
· Don’t rush the introduction of solid foods. Babies don’t need to eat solids until they have from four to eight teeth, or until they can sit up and support themselves in a high chair, and manage to get more food into their mouths, by themselves, than they do in their hair or on the floor!
· Don’t confuse the need for oral discovery, with hunger. Babies become very orally excited from between five to nine months.
· Do let your infant explore the world of taste and texture by letting her smell, play and mush all kinds of foods. Give her different colors and textures to play with. Rather than push quantities of food into their little tummies that most babies don’t require, allow their inquisitive scientific minds to develop.
· Do be aware that breastmilk changes as the child grows, keeping up with the nutritional needs of the baby, so why the rush into solid foods? Your breast milk is as nutritious for a ten month old as it was for a two week old.
About the Author
Sara Chana is a mother of 7 and was introduced to homeopathy as a result of her 2nd son’s severe eczema, reflux and asthma. As she went from specialist to specialist seeking a cure, each one told her that her son would need to be on medication for the rest of his life, Sara decided to look into alternative medicine. By educating herself and using homeopathic remedies, she was able to cure her son and now specializes in helping moms all over the country with natural remedies for their children. Visit www.sarachana.com. Twitter @sarachanas Facebook – Sara Chana