Introducing Solid Foods to the Premature Baby.

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Most full term babies will follow a fairly predictable pattern of development and the standard advice given about introducing solid foods to infants in the first year of life is based on this pattern of development and developmental milestones. However, preterm babies often do not reach developmental milestones at the same time or pace as for full-term infants.

When introducing solid foods to premature babies it is important to use their corrected age as it will be more of an indicator on when they are developmentally ready.

The following is a chart that is very helpful in assessing when your baby may be ready to handle new foods and textures. It’s important to know that every baby is different and foods should only be introduced when your baby shows signs they are developmentally ready.

 

Introduction of New Food Developmental Ready?
Introduction to pureed foods.Introduction to infant cereal, given with a spoon.
  • can sit with support and has neuromuscular control of the head and neck.
  • can take food without choking or gagging.
  • can indicate desire for food by opening the mouth and leaning forward.
  • can indicate feelings of fullness by leaning back and turning away.
  • Strong extrusion reflex has faded, and infant demonstrates ability to swallow non-liquid foods, to transfer food from the front of the tongue to the back, and to draw in the lower lip as the spoon is removed. (does not push large amounts of food back out of mouth while being fed)
Introduction to first finger foods;Larger foods that won’t break into small pieces- such as teething biscuits.
  • can sit independently and maintain balance while using hands to reach and grasp objects.
  • grasps large pieces of food such as thick dry, infant toast, in a palmar grasp.
Introduction to sippy cups
  • exhibits ability to control size of sip and to manipulate liquid to back of mouth and swallow without choking or gagging.
Introduction to food with increased texture and flavor.
  • shows ability to manipulate food in the mouth with definite chewing movements.
  • Begins side to side, lateral tongue movements
Addition of smaller, softer finger foods
  • Development of pincher grasp that allows infant to pick up foods between thumb and finger.
Transition to soft table foods
  • has munching type of chewing
  • Improved ability to manipulate tongue and food in mouth.

 

The following is a great article from NatroDoc.com  that has some good information and a schedule for introducing solid foods to babies to avoid allergies.Keep in mind when you look at this article to use  your baby’s adjusted age instead of using their actual age as well as the chart listed above to see if your baby is ready to take on the challenge! http://www.naturodoc.com/library/children/solid_food.htm

Comments

  1. Interesting stuff. Do you wean on actual or corrected where you are? In the UK parents are advised to wean on actual at around 6 months from the babies date of birth regardless of prematurity.

    1. Kirk says:

      Good luck with that, my preemie is 4 months adjusted age and almost 8 months non-adjusted and is not wanting solid food yet. I am thinking she will let us know when she is ready and that no guide is going to change that time table.