What's in This Guide?
Babies need all the essential vitamins and minerals as they continue to grow daily. After breastfeeding for a few months, they need more solid food to keep up with their rapid growth rates.
It is recommended you give your baby exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months before complementing it by introducing nutritious and safe solid foods up to 2 years of age or beyond. It promotes good health and a strong immune system since breast milk contains all the baby’s required nutrients within six months.
However, at about six months old and beyond, your baby needs more energy and nutrients more than any other time. At this time, breastfeeding remains the main source of energy and nutrients for the baby but should be supplemented with solid foods because babies consume more food than the breast can offer.
It is generally recommended to start introducing your baby to solid foods between 4-6 months. Nevertheless, your child’s rate of growth determines if she is ready or not for solid food. You will likely know your baby is willing to start taking solid foods with these signs, among others, sitting up with minimal support, displaying great head balance, and teething.
There is no particular order to follow in giving solid food; however, the following are recommended first food, beans, pureed meats, poultry, and iron-fortified cereals, especially for babies primarily on breastfeeding, since they give the key nutrients.
Your Baby’s First Foods
You are giving food to your baby other than the breast milk known to her, which may be frustrating to achieve, especially for inexperienced mothers because your baby sees them as strange and may therefore reject them. You need to go through this process with them; hence, a lot of patience is required to get them used to the new world. At this stage, generally, the baby is learning to chew.
The first food should be soft, just like the breast milk he/she is transitioning from. Food such as porridge, well-mashed fruits, vegetables, etc., your baby will normally give a sign when he/she is hungry by putting hands to the mouth, reaching out for food off other family members’ plates, or crying at most.
At this stage, the baby’s stomach is usually still small and can only eat a very small amount of food at a time, so you start by giving him/her two to three spoonfuls of soft, nutritious food twice or three times daily. Always learn how to choose the best foods for their health over every other thing.
Whenever you want to give your baby food in this first period, let it fall on the breastfeeding time and make it lively. You can do that by creating an exciting atmosphere, then use a colorful plate that will eventually become your baby favorite, take one spoon at a time and playfully feed your baby.
These new foods and flavors might turn your baby off, do not worry, be patient as she gets familiar with it, and do not force the food on her. Observe and lookout for signs that she is well fed, then stop feeding. By all means, avoid food high in arsenic concentration as this is strictly frown upon for children especially.
This is the ideal stage you start introducing soft, nutritious food to your baby. Although it may be a difficult task to do initially, it is worth doing because your baby needs more energy and nutrition for day-to-day growth. Your baby undergoes a lot of changes within this period.
The most obvious of such changes are trying to control head up and teething. They are beginning to develop basic growth features and skills. Hence, you may want to try out many varieties of food. It is always good to start with food rich in zinc and iron, such as cereals, since breast milk begins to lack these ingredients as the mother body prepares to fall back to its pre-maternity state.
You can offer this in addition to breast milk as a supplement to meet higher demand for quality food for your baby. It will also encourage fast and efficient growth. Ensure your baby face forward while sitting uprightly under your supervision as you introduce solid foods, making swallowing more comfortable and reduces choking.
When you have made the food appropriately soft, then you use a baby spoon to feed your child, starting with a small quantity. Initially, the baby may refuse to take after one or two spoonfuls, do not force it on her, wait a while and give again until she gets used to it.
By now, your baby must have gotten used to solid food and the act of managing food in her mouth. You can now start introducing other foods to develop a taste for other foods such as fruits, vegetables, and meats and make sure the foods are pureed.
Additionally, you can also serve your child cooked, pureed meat, poultry, or beans, ground, pot-cooked, and single-grain cereal at this stage. The baby’s meal needs no salt or sugar; let the baby learn to eat without seasoning first.
Although most babies at this stage can drink pureed food from a cup when someone else holds it, which make feeding easier and less messy but never forget they will also want to do self-feeding by picking foods up with their hands, so a small mound of pureed meats, poultry or appropriately sliced fruit will be easier to handle than much softer foods.
By now, your baby can do well with soft, pureed foods. Transitioning into more solid foods like thicker pureed meat or vegetable, well-cooked poultry or beans chopped meat, sliced banana, mashed sweet potatoes should be encouraged. A variety of well-cooked vegetables such as green beans, squash, and little bits of other soft fruits can also be served.
10-12 is the most preferred period to begin training your baby on eating adult-like foods as you prepare her for the real-world food system and eating patterns. The foods at this stage should be a little bit harder than when the baby is 6-10 months.
You can now introduce chopped poultry or fish, cooked vegetables, and soft chewable fruits. Your baby may spend more time eating or chewing these foods; it will help you learn the required skills to eat even more adult-like foods.
The baby should learn how to comfortably hold a spoon and eat by herself at this age. You can also begin to allow your baby to join in eating the general family dishes at appropriate sizes with proper supervision.
Parents should keep constant eyes on their babies at this period since babies tend to move around freely, experimenting with whatever their hands can reach and probably want to have a taste. This is to prevent them from accessing other food items that may pose a danger to their health.
Foods To Avoid For A Baby Under 12 Months
Within this period, your baby’s stomach is still developing and adapting to various classes of foods you feed her. Offering your baby some of these types of food may lead to serious health issues because the stomach may not contain the enabling enzymes or hormones to break down these categories of food properly.
Therefore, foods such as honey, nuts, seeds, hard candy, peanut butter, popcorn, and cow’s milk should be avoided within these months. After the 12th month, your baby can start enjoying this food in minimal quantities.
Every nursing mother is eagerly and joyfully waiting to see her baby taking the first solid food; they derive joy in feeding the baby with great excitement. However, the excitement about offering solid foods and the ability to choose the best foods for their nutritional, energy, and health needs are more important.
Notwithstanding, feeding with the right quantity at the appropriate time is key. Also, parents do not just try out all the food at once, and it is one at a time and obverse the baby’s reaction to it. Do not force the food on your bay if there is a rejection while feeding; relax for some time and offer the food again more lively.
At age 11-12, the baby must have tasted almost all the available foods in various modes of preparation and develop a taste bud for each except those that are not suitable for babies below this age.
Baby’s First Foods is undeniably the most exciting moment for mothers, yet not without the stress in coaxing your baby to take the first shot. Ultimately, your child has started eating solid foods; pay keen attention to the baby after every meal to detect allergies, if any. Hence, choosing the best food and preparing it in the most hygienic ways, giving the right proportion at the appropriate time is important.