Make your baby’s first food experience fun.
Your baby’s first year is an amazing time of growth and development. So much is going on with his little body.
For the first six months your baby needs nourishment from you, in the form of breast milk or from formula. But around the six-month mark, you may notice your baby is becoming more interested in the foods you are eating. She may reach for your fork, grab at your food, or mimic your eating or mouth motions. This is an excellent time to begin to introduce her to the wonderful world of solid food.
Make it fun
Starting your baby on solids should be a stress free and pleasurable experience for both you and the baby. Make sure to maintain your regular breast feeding or formula feedings. After a feeding, put a small amount of food on your pinky finger or on a teaspoon and let him taste it. Your baby may get more food on his face and hands than in his mouth. That’s okay. Let him enjoy it. Let him hold the spoon, feel the food with his fingers, or play with it. Keep it fun.
As your baby gets used to eating, she will eat more. Follow her cues about how much to feed. When she has had enough, she will push your hand away or turn her head away. Don’t force or coax her to eat more. That just teaches her to ignore her own hunger cues. Don’t be concerned if your baby doesn’t take to solids right away. She will be getting ample nutrition from the breast milk or formula.
You can begin by feeding him solids at breakfast. Wait a few weeks and add dinner. And a few weeks later, add lunch.
Start with fruits
There are many different opinions on what food you should introduce to your baby first. I prefer fruit – either mashed or pureed to prevent choking – because it is easy to digest and has a sweetness comparable to breast milk. You can mash bananas, avocados, and blueberries, and cook and puree apples, pears, and dried apricots, which provide a natural source of iron. If you prefer to start with vegetables, then cooked and pureed squash, sweet potato and carrots are great choices.
Give your baby the same food for three consecutive days before introducing another food. If she has a negative or allergic reaction to the food, it may not show up for 72 hours. If your baby develops a rash, change in bowel movement, increased gassiness, bloating, or vomiting, discontinue the food. Wait a few weeks and try the food again. If she still reacts badly to the food, wait at least three months before trying again.
Continue adding foods
By introducing a new food every three days, your baby should have a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in his diet by the time he is nine months old. At that point, you can try him on beans and legumes, like lentils, high nutrient grains, such as quinoa, millet, and oats, as well as rice and egg yolks. You can also try adding some herbs and spices to your baby’s diet for both flavor and nutrients. Tickle his taste buds with a puree of apple and cinnamon or pear, parsnip and ginger.
Between 9 and 12 months, as your baby’s food intake increases, her breast milk and formula intake may decrease slightly. But these feedings are still your baby’s main source of nutrition.
Starting solids is a new experience for your baby. Offer small amounts of food, follow your child’s lead, take your time, and enjoy it.