Suddenly the day comes when it’s time to let the baby taste something other than the usual milk. When a baby is around six months old, an important change in their diet happens as it is time for them to start eating solid foods. Some parents plan the start of food well in advance while others take it more spontaneously.
While it can be a challenge for parents to introduce different foods to their baby, the baby’s tummy is prepared for it. In this article, we tell you all about introducing various foods to your baby and some general guidelines that you should consider.
Knowing When The Baby’s Ready
During the first months of life, babies should be given breast milk only. While it is the perfect natural food for babies, not all mothers have that option and many turn to baby formulas. Luckily today there are also many healthy alternatives to baby formula to choose from, which are safe and provide the needed sources of nutrition.
Although you can start introducing different foods when the baby is about six months old, they can continue to be breastfed or be given different baby formulas until the age of two while eating other foods.
Babies send out various signals when they’re ready for different foods. Some show it clearly by curiously watching their parents eating, reaching for their food, or by putting their fingers in their mouths. Try giving some food to see how the baby reacts. If it turns out that the baby is uninterested, don’t worry. Breast milk or baby formula still provides everything the baby needs.
Making the Right Food Choices
Parents learn how to become creative with the child’s diet along the way. First, they must learn to include healthy elements in children’s food. A good nutritional intake is vital for the child’s proper physical development.
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to what foods are good to start with. However, some are a must.
Vegetables are rich in many different nutrients, including protein and since they are blendable, you can use them to make tasty baby food and purees. Every vegetable is important and makes every meal more enticing for your child.
Fruits are good to eat and blend well with other foods. You should preferably choose fresh fruit, not canned or frozen.
Meat and different fish are loaded with protein, vitamin A, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and calcium. When it comes to eggs, experts recommend waiting until the baby is at least a year old, due to food allergies.
Legumes, especially lentils, are fantastic alternatives to meat as a source of protein. They are rich in fiber, which will regulate the baby’s bowel movements and release sugar slowly. They will not only provide many nutrients but also make the baby full for a longer period. Try mashing them into a puree or add them to soups, stews, and pasta sauces.
The Way To Introducing Foods to Your Baby
When it comes to introducing solid and different foods, try your best to ensure the child has a positive experience with the new flavors. In the beginning, they might reject new foods, but it is best to continue offering them so the baby gets the chance to get used to them.
Give very small amounts of food as babies eat much less food than adults. Their digestive system needs time to adapt to the change in diet. Therefore, don’t get frustrated if they don’t eat much of the food.
It’s easier to introduce solid foods by switching to breastfeeding or replacement. This means that you feed your baby with a bottle or breastfeed them, then give a teaspoon of food, followed by more milk. This way, your child can get used to the food.
The baby needs to get used to different textures of food. Trying to handle solid food in the mouth may be unusual at first, but the baby gradually learns how the tongue should move so the food gets swallowed.
During the process, you can let the child play with the food. Yes, it might end up on their face, their hands, or on the floor but do not get angry at your child because then it may develop negative associations with food and refuse to eat it next time. It’s better if you speak kindly and encourage the baby to eat. If your baby is crying or does not want to open its mouth, wait for another opportunity, instead of insisting.
Regardless of how you choose to give the food, it’s important to always keep your eyes on the baby and not give it foods that can get stuck in the throat, such as whole peanuts, or hard pieces of fruits or veggies.
Knowing When To Offer Food Portions
It does not matter at what time during the day you give the baby its food portions. Just make sure the baby is not too tired, too hungry, or too full.
For some, mornings are a good time while others think it works better later in the day. Try different times and see which one suits you best, and try to make it at a time when other family members are eating. You’re the baby’s best role model and learning to eat is also about seeing someone else doing the same. When everything is new for the baby, it needs to learn, step by step.
As the baby starts eating more from its portions, the time comes when you’ll need to gradually lay the foundation for your meal plan. For some parents, this sets in quickly, while for others it can take months. But regardless, the long-term goal is three main meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner and two to three snacks.
Your job will be to help the baby get an eating structure. Such routines and repetition provide security and comfort to the baby.
Many parents feel anxious when they’re about to introduce different foods to their babies. This stage is an exciting milestone to the baby’s development but can be quite confusing.
With the above mentioned simple guidelines such as knowing when the baby is ready, making the right food choices, and learning some tricks when introducing different kinds of food, the transition will be smooth and easy, putting you on the right path to growing a healthy and happy baby. Check out my post on the benefits of understanding early toddler development too.