As a mother, you have a variety of things always to be concerned about. And since a particular age, your baby’s nutrition is one of them. You started thinking about it probably since pregnancy when tried to eat properly to provide the future baby with all the necessary micronutrients. First-time mothers often wonder whether a baby is ready for solid foods. Which type and amounts does he require? When is it better to introduce him to solid foods? Acquaintance the taste of solids is a significant milestone, for both you and your little one. But, worry no more. With this baby feed guide, you will find out how to begin feeding him solid foods that are easy to digest.
When to start solid baby foods
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) exclusive breastfeeding until six months is crucial. It also has provisions on guidelines for pediatricians to advise mothers on introducing solids when their child is between four and six months. It is highly recommended to continue breastfeeding for at least 12 months despite having started feeding him complementary foods. Breast milk is known for its impact on improving infant health.
However, the rate of growth and development differs from one infant to another. Therefore, there is a need to know what signs indicate when yours is ready for solids. If your baby is around 4 months and portrays any of these signs, then it might be time to begin feeding him solids as complements to breast milk or formula.
Signs baby is ready for solids
- Can control his head movement
- Sits upright when supported or in a feeding seat
- Loss of extrusion reflex and doesn’t push food out of his mouth.
- Is double the weight he was born with
- Seems interested and curious about your family food
- Puts his hands and toys in the mouth or opens it when you put a spoon in front of him.
Infant Feeding Schedule
Your baby is fragile and tender. So, it is paramount for you to know what foods your baby needs age by age to grow and develop normally. Take a look at the complete food chart for your baby’s nutrition.
Birth to 4 Month old baby
Avoid solids when your newborn is this young. His digestive system is not yet fully developed. Thus EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding and formula are the recommended stage 1 baby foods. You can create a baby feeding chart to guide you on what and when to start baby food as well as the amounts.
4 Month old baby
An infant is born with utero iron stores in its body which begin to lessen at six months. As such, the AAP advises that baby first food should be meat to replenish the iron. However, it is customary that the baby food diet contains easy to digest foods. The food baby will like at this age is pureed single-grain cereals containing no sugar and salt. They are the best step one foods for the baby because they contain an essential nutrient, iron. Avocadoes, bananas, apples and sweet potatoes are suitable for this age as well.
Baby food recipes are not difficult to follow, and you aren’t required to be a professional chef to make the first foods for a baby. Mix one teaspoon of single-grain cereal, such as barley or oats, with 5 teaspoons of breast milk to ensure it is runny hence easy to swallow. You may add a little fruit puree of apples, bananas or pears.
As he continues to get used to swallowing, thicken the mixture by using less milk or by adding the cereals.
6 Month old baby
At this stage, feed your baby pureed vegetables (some of the healthiest vegetables are well-cooked carrots, zucchini, and parsnips), fruits (apricots, plums, peaches), meat(start with chicken and closer to 7-8 month add beef and pork) and semi-liquid single-grain iron-fortified cereals. Although they are expensive, organic foods are the best as they are safe from contamination by pesticides and other chemicals.
Wait for 3 to 5 days after the introduction of each new food to monitor any allergic reactions to any of the meals.
You can mix these solid foods with fruits to obtain a mash product that is easy to press between your thumb and index finger thus safe and healthy on the baby’s gums.
8 Month old baby
The baby now shows all the signs of readiness. He can grasp, transfer items from one hand to the other, and move his jaws in a chewing motion. Gradually introduce the baby to easily digested foods such as pureed legumes (black beans, chickpeas, lentils). To the mashed vegetables that you have started before you can add beets, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant. Mashed fruits can be diversified with kiwi, grapes, blueberries puree. Add pureed proteins (eggs and soft pasteurized cheese will be new here), finger foods or size-shaped fruit cuts which he can hold and put in the mouth with no hazard of choking.
10 – 12 Month old baby
At 12 months, the baby can now swallow food more efficiently, and even tries to use spoons or cups. Introduce him to wholesome, nutritious foods, as fruits cut into cubes (strawberries or citrus) bite-sized soft cooked vegetables (spinach, tomato), proteins (boneless fish, and poultry) as well as finger foods. Choose only the best vegetables and proteins that will contribute to growth. You can even introduce to him cow’s milk, but only the best quality and closer to his first birthday.
At this stage, your baby can settle on the three meals feeding routine a day. You can even feed him the food dishes the family is eating. Ensure they are mashed in an appropriate texture and size.
How to make baby food
Homemade baby food should be served at a warmth equivalent to body temperature, soft, mashed, pureed or cut into small little bites. You will require a blender or a baby food grinder to puree baby’s food to obtain a uniform soft texture. Sweet potatoes, well-cooked carrots, and avocados are easily mashed by use of a fork making them suitable for your baby’s diet.
Dos and Don’ts of baby foods
You need to take extra care when starting your baby on solid foods. Feed him with a soft-tipped plastic spoon, and avoid using bottles for pureed baby food because this may cause choking. Serve the food in a bowl and avoid feeding him directly from the storage container because the bacteria found in saliva will spoil any leftovers when you dip the spoon you are using to feed the baby into the storage container.
Avoid giving your baby honey because it causes botulism; nuts, popcorns, and whole grapes because they are choking hazards.
When can babies have water
One of the healthiest habits you can get to your baby started on is drinking plain water. Breastfeeding keeps the baby hydrated; thus babies between the ages of 6 – 12 months need to drink water when they are thirsty. However, the sooner you introduce the baby to solid foods the sooner he can begin drinking water. This water should be presented in small quantities by use of a spoon or a sippy cup – enough to help them get used to drinking water.
Knowing the right time to introduce your baby to solid foods is crucial. It helps to avoid choking hazards, belly aches or obesity when introduced too early and slowing baby’s growth when introduced late. Once the baby gets used to solid foods, and his tastes evolve, be adventurous and try new foods in different forms that are appropriate for the various stages in their lives. Gradually introduce the baby to pureed solid food then transition him to soft foods and finally graduate to finger foods or cut-sized food pieces. Monitor the baby for allergies to any foods, constipation and also learn to know when he is full. Don’t be alarmed if he resists at first or takes too little; you should keep trying, he will come around eventually. Have fun as your baby has his first eating experience!