One of the most exciting milestones your baby will reach in their first year is when they start to eat solid foods. But the age of giving them bland oats and blended cereal is over. Babies nowadays are introduced to all kinds of foods from an early stage. Spaghetti, eggs, mixed fruits and steaks; they want to try it all! And the more they try, the better. It’s more important to offer a variety of fruits, vegetables, and meats in order to get your baby used to different tastes. Some parents may be hesitant to give their baby different kinds of foods for fear of them being allergic or because they are scared that they will dislike it. But you can do this in stages. You don’t have to overload your baby’s palate by making them eat every kind of food as soon as they start eating solids. If you’re wondering how to introduce your baby to a wide variety of food as they grow, then this is the article for you. Keep on reading!
1. 4 To 6 Months: Single Grain Cereal
Cereal fortified with iron are the best foods to start with at an early stage. This is because the level of iron present in the utero drops after birth and your baby is susceptible to reaching an all time low level of iron by the time they are 9 months old (1). To prevent this from happening you can give your baby a small amount of cereal before they can start eating iron rich foods. Combine 1 teaspoon of single-grain cereal with 4 to 5 teaspoons of breast milk or formula. This will also help your baby cultivate different styles of eating. They may spit most of it out at first. It can be sloppy and frustrating but you need to get through the process. However, don’t force your infant to eat if they shake their head no. Remember, only one mouthful diluted with milk will do. If they seem completely uninterested by cereal, give it a week or two and then try again. Once your baby is used to swallowing runny cereal, thicken it by using less water or breast milk and more cereal.
2. 4 To 8 Months: Pureed Veggies, Fruits And Meats
Many parents think that giving their kids fruits before veggies will make them prefer sweets throughout their life, but this simply isn’t true. It’s up to you to determine if you’d like to start your baby on pureed bananas or carrots. All fruits and veggies are healthy for your baby. And giving them an assortment of both is what will work best for them. Some parents even start their babies on pureed chicken when they are 7 or 8 months old, and that’s totally okay! The American Academy of Pediatrics also believes that introducing allergenic foods early can reduce the risk of developing a food allergy, especially if your child is at risk (2). So introducing common allergens like eggs, diary and peanuts, after consulting your pediatrician is a great move. Your baby needs all kinds of fruits and vegetables as they all offer vitamins and minerals needed for growth and development. Don’t hesitate to get creative with making blended smoothies for your little one to try!
3. 6 To 8 Months: Single Ingredient Finger Foods
Many babies enjoy experimenting with self feeding, be it with feeding themselves purees or picking up finger foods. When you and your baby are ready to make the transition to finger foods, make sure you don’t give them any raw hard foods. Apples slices and carrot sticks are not what your baby can eat at the moment. Make sure the fruits and veggies you choose are soft enough to mash with gentle pressure between your thumb and forefinger. Some great options are boiled peas, avocados, banana or rice puffs. The shape of the food matters too. Younger babies don’t have dexterous fingers just yet, so they will use their whole palm to pick something up. So giving them mashed potatoes or avocados is better than giving them small pieces of banana. Don’t put salt or sugar in their food either. It’s best to teach your baby to like food without any added sodium and sweeteners.
4. 9 To 12 Months: Chopped, Ground And Mashed Food
The transitions between purees to finger foods can be quick. As your little one grows, incorporate more foods with different textures and tastes. You can start with yogurt, cottage cheese and mashed sweet potatoes. Your baby may also benefit from more iron. So pureed meat like turkey, chicken and beef can be added to their diet in small quantities.
Starting your baby on solid foods can be exciting and daunting. But if you’re confused as to what to give them and when, all you need to do is refer to this guide. Soon enough, your baby will be able to eat a little bit of everything without making a fuss!