A Quick Guide to Baby Food2013 Feb 27 | Written by: Zye Angiwan | Tags: Blenders
A Quick Guide to Baby Food, Babies benefit greatly when healthy eating is introduced early on. Good nourishment is absolutely essential to a baby’s overall growth and development. A well-balanced baby food diet reduces many health risks, stimulates proper formation of a child’s physical and mental capabilities and forms the foundation for healthy eating habits as he or she grows up.
Preparing baby food has become much easier since new appliances and gadgets have been made available to us. Baby food makers, bottle warmers – even conventional food processors or blenders – all contribute to making feeding a much more enjoyable, less messy time. The recommended age to start a baby on solids is 6 months, but take note that children are different, with some babies starting earlier than others. Follow your baby’s pace and keep in mind that this is going to take a lot of time and patience.
When starting your baby on solids, consult a paediatrician first and talk to the rest of the family about what’s happening. Try to adapt family meals when making baby food instead of preparing separate food (e.g. puree vegetables that will be used for dinner). For busy parents, you can make baby food in big batches then store in ice trays or airtight plastic bags. Be sure to thaw the food properly when it’s time for baby to eat, and don’t refreeze leftovers to prevent bacteria growth and contamination. Avoid dependency on commercial baby food as healthy eating should be encouraged; it’s not necessary to add salt, sugar, honey or any other form of flavouring to baby food. Also, refrain from adding solids to a bottle as babies should be able to differentiate between drinking and eating. Always watch your baby to avoid choking and accidents and get out those bibs, wash cloths and aprons!
Your baby’s first solids should be smooth in texture, have absolutely no lumps, and have a mild taste. Start simple with single fruits or vegetables and introduce new tastes gradually. Puree and mash a banana or a pumpkin slice. Start in 1-2 teaspoons, then slowly increase to 2-3 tablespoons until you reach 3 meals a day. Give your baby one new food at a time, and introduce a new food every 2-4 days to add to their diet, test for food allergies and explore food preferences. A sip cup can be used at this age to slowly wean your baby from breastfeeding and introduce drinking from a cup.
- Baby rice cereal fortified with iron – can be mixed with breast milk, formula or cool boiled water
- Pureed vegetables like potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, zucchini, broccoli, carrot
- Cooked and mashed fruits like apples, peaches, pears, apricots, melon, avocados
Once your baby has gotten used to eating baby rice cereal, fruits and vegetables, slowly add protein to their diet and begin giving your baby food with thicker textures. Babies begin to chew between the ages of 6-9 months even if they have no teeth, so add small, soft lumps to food. Gradually add finely minced and chopped foods, as practice in chewing and biting will help develop your baby’s speech.
- Mashed beans, peas or lentils
- Sliced soft fruit like bananas, kiwis, mangoes
- Well-cooked meats and polutry
- Cooked eggs
- Small sandwiches with a dab of cream cheese or mashed fruit
- Pasta, baby muesli, rice, couscous, bread
By 9 months, more solids should be eaten during mealtimes, so the amount of breast milk or formula your baby consumes will lessen. Give your baby solid food before milk and keep offering different foods to broaden your baby’s tastes. Stick to a spouted cup for liquids and encourage baby to drink water; juice should be diluted in a 1:1 ratio with water, given only in small amounts. When your baby starts picking things up, it’s time to try giving them “finger foods.”
- Small pieces of cheese
- Steamed broccoli florets
- Strips of chicken, meat or ham
- Pasta or rice
- Pieces of well-cooked fruits and vegetables
- Pieces of raw soft fruits
When your baby reaches 12 months, it’s time for them to join the family during mealtimes. While this can be messy, it is important for the baby’s development and should be encouraged. At this age, you can serve a child-sized portion of whatever the rest of the family is eating. Keep giving your child formula through a sip cup or continue breastfeeding 3-4 times a day for complete nutrition.