Introducing solid food to your baby’s diet, or weaning, is recommended by the time your baby is six months old. Up until that point, your baby will be getting all the nourishment they need from Breast Milk Or Formula. From 6-12 months, a baby’s dietary selections expand a great deal, from a purely liquid diet to one rich in varied fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains.
Getting Started with Solid Foods
With the approval of your baby’s health visitor, you can begin weaning your baby at about six months. The most common first food is an iron-enriched single grain rice cereal, mixed to a thin consistency with breast milk or formula. At first taste, many babies are not too fond of the cereal, but after a few tries, most will begin to enjoy it.
Choosing Purées for your Baby
After your baby has learned to accept eating from a spoon, you can begin to introduce a broad variety of wholesome foods. Many parents choose to prepare homemade purées, but commercially prepared baby food is perfectly acceptable. In either case, begin by selecting one new food at a time and observe your baby carefully to be sure that there is no adverse reaction.
There are two basic schools of thought on adding fruits and vegetables. Some parents believe in getting your child comfortable with eating a wide assortment of vegetables before offering fruit. Mostly, this theory stems from the belief that once a baby has tested the sweetness of fruit, they may become less enthusiastic about vegetables.
Other parents do well with alternating fruits and vegetables. There is really no right and wrong – just do whichever you prefer. Most parents wait to introduce puréed meats until their baby has grown accustomed to a nice variety of fruits and veggies.
Homemade vs. Commercially Prepared Purées
While there are plenty of good quality baby purées on the market today, some parents prefer to prepare their baby’s food from scratch. This is perfectly all right, as long as you keep a few things in mind. Most importantly, be sure that you purée the food to a very smooth consistency, especially for younger babies. It takes a while for babies to be ready for chunkier foods – usually several months. Also, keep your baby’s food simple. There is no need to add sugar, salt, or other seasonings. Since all tastes are new and exciting to babies, you may as well get them used to wholesome foods in their purest forms.
Expanding the Selections
By about 7-8 months of age, most babies are ready to begin feeding themselves simple finger foods. Small pieces of fresh fruit, shredded carrots, bits of cheese, and small pieces of bread are good first choices. To minimize the chance of choking, cut or shred all foods into small pieces, and avoid firm, round foods such as cherry tomatoes or hot dog slices. Be sure that you are always on hand to supervise as your baby self-feeds.
By the time your baby reaches one year old, your health visitor will likely recommend introducing whole fat cow’s milk. For most babies, the need for breast milk or formula is outgrown at this time, and the Transition To Cow’s Milk is usually an easy one. Be sure to check with your baby’s doctor for specific recommendations about cow’s milk, as well as any other concerns you may have about infant and Child Nutrition.