A Comprehensive Guide to Baby First Foods

October 14, 2019

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Normally, you should start weaning your baby from breast feeding at the age of 6 to 7 months. Before this age is reached, it is recommended that the baby is given breast milk exclusively, which means that the infants feed on nothing but breast milk to provide the required nutrition for optimal growth. In this post we’ll learn what should be baby first foods.

The best age, as recommended by health-focused organizations, to introduce solid foods to the equation is at 6 months, whether your infant has been feeding on breast milk or formula feed.

But that is not to say that you should stop with breast feeding, on the contrary, it is recommended by a specialist that you continue breast-feeding your infant through the age of 12 months.

Introducing your baby to solid food can be a proud milestone as a parent, as it shows that your little one is growing. You are also helping the baby shape his or her feeding habits and establish healthy eating patterns.

As a parent, you need to be careful when to introduce solid food because starting early with solid food increases the risk of choking, bellyaches, and obesity. On the other hand, starting too late means slow baby growth as well as encourage abhorrence to solid foods among many other conditions.

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While many professionals have zeroed it to 6 to 7 months, there are instances where you can introduce the solid food earlier than 6 months. This depends on the clues you receive from your baby, including:

  • The baby can sit comfortably in a high chair on his or her own. This is a major clue as far as introducing solid food to your infant is concerned. This gesture means your baby can now hold up his or her head and doesn’t require any propping up to stay in the upright posture, which is crucial for preventing choking.
  • You baby looks interested at mealtime. If the baby sits up and watches and imitates how people on the table are eating, it means that he or she is ready to try the solid meal too.
  • The baby can move the solid meal to the back of his or her throat and swallow. If the infant pushes the food out of his or her mouth and it is not because of food but because the throat is not wide enough to pass the food, then hold off with the solid meals for a while.

How to introduce solid foods

There is no hurry in introducing your child to solid foods. At 4 to7 months, the infant will still be depending entirely on breast milk for nutrition. So, if during the early stages the baby refuses the solid meals, remember it is a gradual process and the baby will learn on his or her own time.

Here is how you can start feeding solid meals to your baby.

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  • Using a small spoon

Use a spoon to feed the baby instead of letting her use the hands. After all, it is good courtesy to eat with a spoon, so you will also be teaching your baby some good manners in the process.

  • Start slowly

Start slowly with small food on the spoon. It is also recommended to talk the child through with words like “yummy.” Consider starting mealtime with a little formula feed or breast milk before introducing some solid meal and then finish off the formula feed or breast milk. You can start by doing a solid meal a day, then increase slowly as the baby get used to it. The best time to start with solid meals is in the morning since babies are usually hungriest during that time.

  • Try new meals a couple of times

As time passes, the taste of your baby will evolve, and you may find yourself trying a food even more than 10 times before the baby likes it.

  • Change the diet after at least three days

Sticking to a certain food for more than one day will help you understand the food your baby is allergic to.

  • Change the form of foods

The baby may not like a mashed food, in which case try it pureed. At this stage, your baby is also learning about new food textures and tastes, so it may take a lot of trial and error before you find the right form.

Perfect first foods for baby

The good thing about solid foods for babies is that there are no written on stone rules that dictate which food you should introduce first. As long as you feel your baby is ready to start trying solid meals, just strap him or her into the high chair and wrap a bib around his or her neck and start experimenting slowly. Start with easy food such as barley, oatmeal, and rice.

Many professionals recommend these “easy foods” as the first solid meals start giving your baby. You can mix one of these “easy foods” with enough milk to maintain a thicker consistency. Also, it is recommended that you introduce vegetables before fruits, but that does not mean that the baby will like vegetables more when they grow up. But mixing fruits and vegetables is good for shaping up your child’s future dietary habits. A study showed that babies who eat many vegetables or fruits in the age between 6 and 12 months would eat many vegetables and fruits as older children.

You don’t have to sweat much about the first food for your baby as it is still just a supplement and not a necessity.

The consensus is that you start with cereals before going to other solids, but there is no harm at all in getting straight to pureed foods.

When feeding cereal to your baby, avoid putting it in a bottle, as this can be a choking hazard. It is also recommended to mix the cereal with your breast milk, thus, it is better to try first with water and see if the baby will eat the cereal before wasting your valuable breast milk.

The first vegetables to give your baby are often yellow and orange vegetables as well as fruits such as avocados, bananas or strawberries.

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Here are perfect foods to start your baby with:

  •  Baby cereal like rice, oatmeal, and barley
  •  Banana
  •  Strawberry
  •  Sweet potato
  •  Avocado
  •  Pears
  •  Apples
  •  Green beans
  •  Butternut squash

Other important foods that you can give your baby include pureed beef or chicken. These two foods have easily absorbable forms of zinc and iron which babies need when at the age of 4 to 6 months. But you will have to check with your pediatrician first before giving your baby pureed beef and chicken.

Foods to avoid giving a baby

At this stage, there are few foods that you need to avoid giving your infant baby, and they include:

  • Cow milk

You can be tempted to mix cattle milk with the baby cereals, but that is dangerous. Babies’ digestive systems may not be developed properly to digest cow milk. But once they are used to solid milk, you can introduce some soft cheese or yogurt.

  • Raw honey

Raw milk can lead to botulism in babies, but it is safe after 12 months.

  • Choking hazard foods

Be careful when giving your baby pureed or soft foods, such as cooked carrots. Ensure there are no huge chunks that can choke the baby.

  • Certain types of fish

Fish is not bad, but there are some kinds that can harm your baby due to the high amount of mercury. Salmon, whitefish, and light canned tuna fish are safe for infant babies.

  • Other foods to avoid

Unless there is a good reason, like a medical reason, you should avoid feeding your baby juice at this tender age. These include natural fruit juice as they may contain a lot of sugar.

Also keep of eggs, strawberries, and peanut products.

As you can see, the foods that are not suitable for babies are very few. But even the safest food should not be a choking hazard.

Introducing allergic solid foods

Allergic foods are always at the center of many discussions around when to start feeding baby a portion of solid food. These foods cause allergies to even grownups that are allergic to them. They include dairy, fish, eggs, fish, tree nuts and peanuts.

Allergic foods are recommended by doctors but should be introduced in the form of purees and soft textured food.

A clinical guideline issued by the National Institute of Health in 2017 encourages parents to introduce allergic foods early, especially to infants with a high risk of peanut allergies. By incorporating these types of foods in your baby’s diet early, decreases the risk of developing the allergy in the future.

How do I feed my baby?

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The main concern of introducing solid meals is choking risk. So, when feeding your baby, make sure they are strapped on their high chair. Also, ensure the tray is secured.

When feeding puree foods, put little – half spoon at most and carefully put the spoon to the baby’s mouth. Some babies will open their mouth while others may require a little luring.

Conclusion

Introducing solid food is one of the most important aspects of child growth. It will ensure you establish positive feed habits with your child during infancy, which can have tremendous benefits later in their lives. Some babies may want to touch the food on the spoon, which is ok. They just want to know more about what they are eating. Remember, they may be infants, but they are not dumb. If you don’t let them touch the food, chances are they will not want to taste it.

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