Baby feeding – introducing solid foods

Introducing solid foods to your baby is a new and exciting experience for new parents. For the first 6 months of your baby’s life breast milk or formula provides all the nutrition your baby needs. Most babies will begin eating solids around 4-6 months. We have provided tips for introducing your baby to the world of food aside from the liquid form they’re used to.

When Is Your Baby Ready to Begin Solid Feeding

Some babies will show signs of readiness to begin solid feeding as early as 4 months while others wait a little longer. Indications that your baby may be ready to start spoon feeding include:

  • Sits up with support
  • Can hold head up while sitting
  • No longer has extrusion reflex (pushing food out with tongue)
  • Shows interest in food while watching others eat
  • Opens mouth when a spoon is offered

If your baby doesn’t seem to be ready for solids just yet give it a week then try again.

Baby’s First Foods

For most babies single-grain infant cereal that is fortified with iron is the first food choice. You can also opt for other whole grain cereal options such as oatmeal and barley then eventually begin offering mild fruit and vegetable purees.

There is no specific order to which foods you should start your baby off with. You may want to start with the veggies however, preferably your orange-colored varieties such as carrots, sweet potatoes and squash. If you start with sweeter foods like fruits your child may be more resistant to the less appealing vegetables.

These are a few age-appropriate pureed food choices you can offer your baby by the time they reach 6 months:

  • Squash
  • Avocado
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Sweet peas
  • Green beans
  • Banana
  • Apple sauce
  • Pears

Establishing Healthy Eating Habits

Contrary to what most parents believe, baby food doesn’t have to be plain and bland. Essentially you can feed your baby almost any solid food fully pureed. You can gradually offer foods with stronger flavors such as sour fruits, cruciferous vegetables, and stewed meats. There may be certain foods and flavors your baby won’t like at first. It can take several times of offering a certain type of food before your baby will like it.

A great way to set the tone for healthy eating habits and broadening your baby’s tastes when introducing solid foods is to offer them a pureed version of what you’re eating. Avoid over-feeding your baby by looking for cues that he’s full. If your baby turns their head when offered a spoonful of food he may be full.

Preparing Your Own Baby Food

Commercially prepared baby food offers convenience to busy parents but is very bland and plain. You can mix up your baby’s diet to offer a variety of different tastes and textures by making your own baby food. Be mindful when seasoning food you plan on feeding to your baby to go light on the salt.

To prepare food for your baby you will need to mash or puree it to a consistency your baby can tolerate. You can easily do this using any of the following:

  • Baby food grinder
  • Hand-turned food mill
  • Hand blender
  • Food processor
  • Fork

For babies just learning to eat solids you may need to add liquid such as breast milk, formula, or water to thin it for a smoother consistency. Gradually your baby will be able to eat thicker and grainy textures. When preparing batches of baby food only make what your baby will eat within three days or put the extra aside and store in the freezer for later.

Do’s and Don’ts of Solid Feeding

There are a few rules you should follow to ensure safety when it comes to feeding your baby solid foods.

Do

– Offer new foods one at a time, waiting at least 3 days before introducing something new to watch for food allergies.
– Continue giving breast milk or formula in addition to the solid food.
– Feed your baby at meal times with your family; breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Don’t

– Give honey or syrup to babies under the age of 1.
– Feed your baby a meal of all fruits. Meals should include 1 or 2 different food choices.
– Delay certain foods that were previously believed to be allergenic. It is beneficial to offer babies a variety of textures and tastes so     go ahead and offer them eggs or fish.

 

Age-by-Age Feeding Guide

4-6 Months

7-9 months

8-12 months

Breast milk/ formula 4-5 feedings p/day 3-5 feedings p/day 3-4 feedings p/day
Cereal or Grains 2 meals a day 2 meals a day 2 meals a day
Fruits 2 meals a day 2 meals a day 2 meals a day
Vegetables 2 meals a day 2 meals a day 2 meals a day
Fruit juice or water (optional) 1 serving a day 1 serving a day
Protein 1 meal a day 2 meals a day

Finger Foods

Eating finger foods is one of the first steps your baby will make towards independence. By the time your baby reaches 8 months she should be ready to start trying finger foods. The first types of finger foods you can begin offering to your baby around 7-9 months include:

  • Pieces of soft bread
  • Teething crackers
  • ‘O’ shaped cereal

By about 9 months most infants are ready to take on more finger foods such as small pieces of soft fruits and vegetables like banana and cooked diced carrots. Avoid feeding foods that pose a choking hazard such as wieners or whole grapes. You want to be sure the finger foods are bite-sized and soft enough to mush with gums. Always supervise your child when offering finger foods. With time and practice your little one will be well on their way to feeding themselves without any help from mom.

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