It is always an exciting time for most parents to make a leap from breast/formula milk to solids, and so on to table food when it comes to their children.
However, it can be confusing and daunting when it’s time to figure out when your baby is ready to start eating and which food is safe to give them at a specific stage.
While it is recommended that breastfeeding must be the ultimate source of nutrition for your baby for about 6-12 months, you might not know what to feed them next. Read on to learn more ways to help prepare for your baby’s transition to more solid food.
Stage 1: About 6 Months
Only after they are sitting up with little to no support and can hold up their heads without help should babies be introduced to solid food. You can also notice other signs of readiness, like when your baby is interested as others eat or reaches for food on their plate.
When introducing food, do it one food at a time for monitoring of adverse reactions. Traditionally, try introducing simple, single-grain cereals (rice, barley, or oat).
To accustom your baby to its taste and texture, you can add a little breast or formula milk and water. Make sure that the cereal is made for babies and iron-fortified.
Purees, which could be single fruit or veggie, are also recommended. You may also consider sweet potatoes, peas, peaches, avocados, and carrots. A baby’s primary nutrition source will continue to be breast or formula milk until 12 months even once you begin giving the purees.
Stage 2: 6 to 9 Months
To determine if they are ready, check if your baby is drooling less and pushing less food out of their mouth. They have a good mechanism for knowing when they’re done eating, such as pushing food away. Know when to follow their lead.
At this stage, purees may have some small chunks and can be thicker, but you must keep food soft as your baby is still new to eating food.
You can give more complex purees by adding meat and may consider combining puree flavors. Soft and mashed food, like sweet potato, carrot, or banana may also be included.
You can also save yourself some money by making baby food yourself. In doing so, remember that rice is the most versatile and inexpensive ingredient to use that can be made in large batches. You can invest in a food processor or blender if you plan to make baby food regularly.
Stage 3: 10-12 Months
If their teeth are coming in, and they are doing well with thick purees, it may be time to give them soft and chunky food. It it a good sign if they are also able to use their hands by putting food in their mouth and swallowing well.
AAP recommends serving four ounces of food at each meal, which is equivalent to one small jar of baby food. You may give them wafer-type cookies or crackers, finely chopped chicken, well-cooked pasta, cooked carrots and potato chunks, scrambled eggs, and small chunks of banana.
Make sure food is cut into small pieces and easy to swallow to prevent choking. Seeds, nuts, popcorn, and other hard food should be avoided.
Although readiness for different types of food differs from one baby to another, it is still essential to have a guide to avoid confusion and for reference purposes.
The most vital information is knowing that every food you give to your baby is healthy and contributes to their overall development. If you have any concerns or queries regarding your baby’s nutrition or feeding habits, it is still best to consult their doctor.