One of the most common dilemmas of almost everyone who is about to enter the world of parenthood is how to properly feed their baby during the first year. Although, there is a universal food planner for your little ones, choosing the right time to introduce solids and deciding on what solids to introduce may be a difficult task. The truth is, you don’t have to introduce foods to your child in any special order. For example, although cereal is traditional first food in America, you don’t have to necessarily start with cereal. It is fine to start with mashed vegetables instead. However, be mindful that it is always a good idea to consult your child’s doctor first just to make sure you are doing things in the right way.
Here you can see some of the essential baby food stages that should help you go through the process of feeding your baby more easily.
Stage 1: Birth to 4 months
As soon as the baby is born, you need to start breastfeeding. A baby has a rooting reflex that helps them turn towards the nipple to find nourishment. In case, you, for some medical reasons or a lack of milk, cannot breastfeed, use baby formula only. Although it is always advisable to do all that is in your power to breastfeed, baby formula is a good substitute for mother’s milk. There is a certain daily schedule baby should be breastfed, but it’s always best to consult the child’s doctor on that matter. Since your baby’s digestive system is still developing, staying off solids at this period is obligatory.
Stage 2: 4 to 6 months
Foods that you might want first to introduce to your baby include single ingredient foods such as rice cereal or pureed fruits and vegetables. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the child should be given solids when they can sit up without any support and when they can hold their head up without anyone’s help. Doctors recommend mixing mothers milk or baby formula with the purees just to make the food tastier to the baby. Keep in mind that it’s important to give your baby appropriate food sizes, not too much or too little. A few spoonfuls are just the right amount of food for your baby. During this period you can add new food twice a week to find out what your baby likes or dislikes and to see if there is an allergic reaction to any foods.
Stage 3: 6 to 8 months
During this period, you can continue giving your baby the foods that you gave during the previous two months. Some of the foods include pureed or strained vegetables, pureed meat, small amounts of unsweetened yogurt, iron-fortified cereal and others. The only difference is that you can introduce 2 baby foods which include single ingredient and a combination of foods that are strained instead of being pureed. At this stage, it doesn’t really matter in what order you introduce new foods to your child. Contact your pediatrician, if you notice that your child has unusual reactions to certain kinds of food such as rash, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Stage 4: 8 to 10 months
Once your baby reaches 8 months, they will be ready to try solid and finger foods. There will no longer be so much drooling and a baby tongue will allow baby to pull food into their mouth and swallow effectively. At this stage, your baby can eat small amounts of soft pasteurized cheese, cottage cheese, and unsweetened yogurt. Finger foods include well-cooked pieces of potato, well-cooked spiral pasta, beans, etc. Keep in mind that at this stage, babies still don’t have many teeth so you will need to continue to strain the food you prepare for your little one. Also, try serving foods together like pureed meat and veggies. At this point, you can let your baby decide when they had enough. For example, if they turn their head around or start crying, you need to stop feeding them.
Stage 5: 10 to 12 months
When your baby turns 10 months they are ready for three solid foods which have more texture and smaller chunks. This should encourage the baby to start using their teeth and start chewing. Some of the foods include chicken lasagne, food, and carrots, beef and spaghetti 4 tablespoons protein-rich food, etc. If your little one doesn’t show eagerness to try new foods, try feeding them when they are happier. They will undoubtedly be more receptive and they will sample new foods more easily.