Beginning Solid Foods: How to Do It Right from the Startby Katlyn Joy
One of the most changeable standards in caring for little ones is the guidelines for when to start solid foods, and what to feed baby. In the 60's babies were given whole cow's milk at several months of age and encouraged to begin solids even earlier. Then we were advised that breast is best and to continue through at least the first year if possible. But most parents feel overwhelmed at all the dietary advice and guidelines today.
"When do I offer citrus fruit?"
"Can giving honey to my baby be fatal?!"
"Is meat safe to eat before baby has teeth?"
Signs Baby is Ready for Solid Foods
- Shows interest in table food or what parents eat.
- Sits with support.
- Holds head steady in upright position.
- Can take a spoonful of food without thrusting it back out immediately with the tongue.
- Wait until baby is at least four months old.
- Use your finger as baby's first spoon and start off very slowly.
- Never give honey to a baby younger than one year old.
- Offer new foods one at a time, and preferably in the morning in case it causes a tummy problem it'll settle down by bedtime.
- Avoid foods that you know there is a family history of allergies with.
- Make your own simple first foods.
Baby's First Menu in Order of Appearance
Cereal. It's best to start off with rice, then oat before any wheat, in case of allergies. Mix it with a little breastmilk or formula. First make it quite thin and eventually thicken the cereal you offer baby.
Bring in some fruits. An ideal first baby food is a mashed up banana. You can offer it separately or mix it in with baby's cereal. Plain, unsweetened applesauce is another easy and favorite option. Pear sauce or mashed up pears are another mild and pleasant option for new eaters. Just remember the texture for the newest eaters should go gradually from a fine mashed up puree to eventually some soft chunks for baby to chew or gum up.
Veggies. Some good choices to start with are carrots or squash. Just steam them let them cool and mash them up, perhaps mixing in formula or breastmilk. Avocados are a nice option as well. Many little ones like pumpkin, or green beans that are pureed. Just remember to offer each choice many, many times and never force the issue.
Meats and proteins. Most doctors recommend holding off on eggs until baby is at least several months old, or older if an allergy runs in the family. Just make sure meats are well cooked and smooth in texture to avoid choking. Avoid processed meats or hot dogs however. Cheese is a good first finger food too.
Other options once baby is eating and enjoying real food include crackers, graham crackers are good for teethers, pasta without spicy sauces, brown rice or yogurt.
Caution: Choking and Allergy Hazards
Avoid nuts and corn, milk, seafood or underdone meats. Make sure baby doesn't eat foods that are known choking hazards such as hot dogs, popcorn, grapes or candies particularly round hard candies.
The Eager Eater
Some babies don't need an introduction to food. They are busy swiping at plates whenever food is in reach. These little ones should be indulged whenever their tastes are practical. For instance, if a seven month old wants a bit of baked potato, then by all means allow baby to sample some as long as it's not too hot or peppered. If baby likes a mild spaghetti, then don't fret about cutting up a bowlful. You are lucky and don't want to discourage her in her appetites.
The Good Eater Goal
What you are aiming for in feeding baby is to prevent allergies, provide for all the child's nutritional needs and help baby develop a palate for a variety of tastes, textures and types of foods. To that end, offer baby a smorgasbord of items. Never argue or force the issue. Offer is the key word. However, if baby despises broccoli twenty times, don't despair. Time twenty-one may be the magic moment and a new favorite may be born.
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