Introducing solid foods to your baby is an exciting time! Every parent loves to see the facial expressions that come from tasting a new food. Some of them are looks of pure horror, while others are sheer excitement at the taste. For many new parents, the process of introducing baby food can seem daunting and filled with contradicting advice.
As a mother of three children, I have gone through the course of introducing food to my kids a few times. Each time is just as exciting as the last experience. I have learned a few tricks and tips to help make the process easier and less confusing.
7 things to know about introducing baby food
1. Figure out What Age to Introduce:
Most parents will receive conflicting advice about when to give their child baby food. The Plunket New Zealand advises parents to wait until their child are around six months of age. Introducing solids before four months increases the risk of weight gain and obesity. However, it is wise to speak to your paediatrician about your child.
There are some readiness signs you can look for in your child. He should be able to sit in a high chair or an infant seat with head control. Most babies love to watch their parents eat. Another readiness sign is a child that opens their mouth when they see food, or they may reach out to it.
Children need the ability to move food from the front of their mouth to their throat. If you give your child a bite of baby food and it comes back out, they may not be ready to start. Also, most pediatricians advise waiting until a child has doubled their birth weight before parents start solid foods.
2. First Foods:
Once you decide when to start solid foods, it is time to decide what to give them first! There are a lot of options.
Some start with baby cereal. However, I never chose rice cereal as a first food. There is no evidence that introducing in a particular order is advantageous.
Many parents start with vegetables because fruits are sweeter. They believe that introducing fruits first may cause a child to dislike the taste of veggies. Most commonly, I begin with giving my kids carrots. Some other great vegetable options are:
There is nothing wrong with opting to start fruits instead of vegetables! I commonly give fruits as the second or third food to my children. Their excitement with the first bite makes it worth having a camera nearby. Babies love fruits! Some common choices are:
Opt for Homemade Baby Food
: Purchasing baby food is expensive. Our family chooses for organic baby food, and the cost could easily hit $5 or more each day. That means we could spend around $150 per month if we chose to use store bought baby food. Children tend to eat baby food for four to six months; that is a significant chunk of change!
Companies have blenders designed for making baby food. While they are nice, a standard blender or immersion blender can do the same thing. It is important to wash and steam many of the foods before blending. Parents can even buy refillable baby food pouches! I love the combinations I can make, like banana raspberries or chicken pot pie!
4. Breastfeeding and Solid Foods:
If you breastfeed your child, introducing baby food in the right order is important. Children need breastmilk until they are, at least, a year old. However, the World Health Organisation advocates for children to breastfed until two years old. If you introduce solids the wrong way, you risk losing some of your hard-earned milk supply.
What is the right way? The right way to introduce baby food is to remember the saying “under one, just for fun.” That means it is best to breastfeed your child first, then offer them baby food. If they are hungry, they will happily eat a few bites. If they are full of milk, they will turn their head.
5. Single Ingredients:
Food allergies are a common problem. You want to make sure you catch any reactions before they happen again. The best practice is to introduce single ingredients at a time. Introduce carrots and apples as separate foods. After three introductions, you will have a good idea if your child has any reactions. Once you are confident they aren’t allergic, you are free to give them apples and carrots mixed.
6. Gradual Introduction:
I start with a slow introduction to baby food. Instead of offering breakfast, I introduce baby food at lunch time, after their nap and breastfeeding. In the beginning, they may only take a few teaspoons of food. A lot of it will end up on their bibs or the food tray.
Once they eat two ounces at lunch, I offer two ounces at breakfast. Around this time, I give my children baby cereal. Instead of rice, I opted for baby oatmeal mixed with fruit and heated up. My kids always enjoy this! By the time they are nine to ten months, my child can eat two or three meals per day and up to four ounces of baby food at a time.
7. Finger Foods:
Many kids hate the texture of baby food. You may notice after a few weeks that they refuse baby food. It may be the texture. Introducing finger foods once they have mastered the ability to pick up is safe. Remember to watch your child carefully for choking. My second son refused baby food after eight months and only ate finger foods.
Introducing solid foods is one of my favourite things about the first year of my children’s lives. I love watching them experience new foods and finding the ones they prefer the most. It is a great time to bond with your baby and have some great laughs together. Your child is growing and is healthy! The start of baby food is a time to celebrate and to get ready for even more laundry.