Baby food is one of the things that new parents ask about frequently. Knowing what to feed your baby and when to start. In the first year especially, your little one will have a whole host of new experiences with food, textures and flavours. Their needs change during their first year, and it can help for parents to know what to expect when it comes to baby food.
Initially, your little one will only need breast milk or baby formula. Their systems are not developed enough for solid food, and breast milk or formula has all the nutrition your little one needs. In fact, your little one can be exclusively bottle or breastfed until around six months of age, and still get all the nutrition they need.
At six months, your little one may be showing signs of being ready to move on to baby food. These signs include:
• The ability to stay in a sitting position, holding their head steady Page 6 of 10
• Coordination of the eyes, mouth and hands and ability to pick food up and put it in their mouth themselves
• They’ll swallow food rather than spit it back out
A good place to start when giving them solid foods includes purees, cereals and baby rice in addition to their usual breastmilk or formula.
Between the ages of seven to nine months, there are quite a few foods that you can begin to introduce to your baby. At this stage they’ve had some practice with eating solid foods and can gradually progress to have 3 meals a day.
The most important factor is to offer them a variety of foods to ensure they get their nutrients and energy sources whilst they’re growing quickly. It may take 10 or more tries to get your baby used to the flavours and textures of foods so don’t be discouraged.
At this stage, if you think your baby is hungry between meals, offer them extra milk feeds instead of snacks.
At this stage your baby should be well-versed in having three meals a day, as well as their milk feeds. After breakfast, you may want to include a pudding with the next two meals. This could be as simple as fruit or unsweetened yoghurt.
Do not integrate salt or sugar yet as these can affect their kidneys and cause tooth decay.
At this stage, your little one can eat most of the foods that you eat. Some foods will still need to be mashed, and others will always need to be cut into small pieces, but at this age, your little one is learning the skills of chewing and swallowing. As they get better at eating, you can make their pieces of food a little bigger but try to remember to keep them small enough to avoid a risk of choking.
The other thing to remember is that you should only introduce a new food every few days. You need to take time to make sure that your little one isn’t going to have an allergic reaction to any new foods.
If you have any concerns about your child’s reaction to certain foods or their diet in general, consult your GP or healthcare professional.