Picture this: It's a sunny afternoon, you're lounging on the sofa scrolling through social media when you come across the picture of a cute baby holding a spoon full of mashed potatoes. Suddenly you realize that your bundle of joy is growing up too fast and it's time to introduce solids! But what if your baby was born premature? When can they start solid foods? Don't worry, we've got you covered!
Understanding premature babies
First things first, let's get familiar with the term 'premature.' A baby is considered premature if they are born before 37 weeks of gestation. These tiny tots often need specialized care as their bodies haven't developed fully yet.
Premature infants usually have underdeveloped digestive systems that may not be ready for solid food until much later than their full-term counterparts. However, introducing them to solids at an appropriate age is crucial for their healthy development.
When should I introduce solid foods to my preemie?
Let's cut straight to the chase here - there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. The right time to introduce solids varies depending on individual factors such as weight gain progress and developmental readiness.
However, most doctors suggest waiting until preemies reach six months corrected age before starting them on any form of solid food.
What does corrected age mean?
Nowadays, everyone seems obsessed with being PC and politically correct. But in medical terminology "corrected" means adjusting your baby’s actual chronological age based on when they were supposed to be born (aka expected due date or EDD).
For example, if your baby was born two months early but now he or she has been alive for four months then his/her corrected age will still be only two months old because technically that’s where he/she would’ve been had s/he not been delivered earlier than planned (or unplanned, depending on the circumstances).
How to gauge if your preemie is ready for solids
It's important to keep in mind that all babies develop differently, and premature babies may take longer to reach developmental milestones. Here are some signs of readiness for solid foods:
- Your little one has steady head control and can sit upright with minimal support.
- Shows interest in the food others are eating. (Aren't we all interested in what others are having?)
- Loss of tongue-thrust reflex which means they no longer push their tongues forward when objects touch them.
When you recognize these signs, it's time to start introducing solids!
Which menu items should top my list?
Now that your preemie has been cleared for solid food let’s move onto everyone’s favorite topic - FOOD!
As a parent you want only the best for your child, but don't fret! Starting small is key here. It is recommended by pediatricians worldwide that parents ease into feeding their baby pureed fruits and vegetables before moving up towards more complex textures such as mashed potatoes or rice cereal (Note: these aren't made out of rice nor do they taste like cereal).
Commonly acceptable starter foods include:
- Pureed avocado
- Pureed sweet potato
- Pureed bananas
- Single Grain Rice Cereal
If either you or your partner don’t have a unique palette then I guess it could be worse...it could’ve been liver.
But Why Wait? The 4 Month Dilemma...
You might've heard stories from moms who started giving their four-month-old early-term infants other kinds of food outside breast milk/formula – this goes against doctor's orders.
In fact numerous doctors advise not starting solids until at least six months corrected age.” Sure spooning applesauce into a "hungry" infant looks harmless enough..until maybe 30 minutes later when his body tries keeping pace with his sensory taste buds.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), starting solids too early isn't recommended because it could result in:
- Digestive issues such as constipation
- Introducing allergenic foods before an infant's digestive system is ready, increasing the risk of allergies
- Overfeeding and obesity
Trust us, no one wants a tiny tot suffering from any of these woes. So don't rush!
Ok I get it...But My Pre Emi Is HUNGRY!
If your preemie seems like they need more than breast milk or formula on their diet but you’re not sure if he’s developmentally safe enough for regular food yet, then try varying his meal rhythm until cleared by his doctor.
This can mean upping feedings wherever possible - extra moments with good ole mom won’t hurt anyone right?
For example,do hourly feeds during daytime hours or double feeds at nighttime so they feel satisfied without introducing anything yet that might do damage later down the line (as tempting as apple bread crumbs sound).
Bonus points if both parentals take turns doing night-time wake-up calls!
In conclusion folks; there’s never been a better time to be a baby in America – you're now privy to all this gourmet goodness! When and what to introduce when feeding your little ones should come easy once you familiarize yourself with the basic guidelines given here about premature infants.
So sit back relax, put Yanni's music on loop and take joyous pleasure watching babies learn how to eat solid foods for maybe the first, second…or third time. Catching those priceless looks and wacky faces has always been half the fun - tell everybody we sent greetings!