As your baby grows their tastes and nutritional needs will develop. Introducing solids into your baby’s diet can be an adventure and needn’t be a stressful chore. Begin with soft foods such as rice cereal and graduate to nourishing foods such as softened fruit and mashed vegetables. As your baby gets older still, you can incorporate textured foods with a wider variety of flavours.
What age to I introduce solids?
The suggested age at which to introduce your baby to solids is around 6 months. Any earlier and the baby may not be capable of processing the food, as their digestive system is still developing. Knowing what solid foods to start your baby on can be difficult to gauge as it will make up a considerable proportion of their diet therefore must be nutritious without being too sophisticated or overdeveloped for their palate. Rice cereal is an optimum first solid food as it is easily digestible, rich in iron and unlikely to induce allergies. Furthermore, it is a plain food substance which will not aggravate the baby’s developing digestive system. Once your baby is able to comfortably swallow around six tablespoons of rice cereal you may like to introduce other types of grains such as oats and barley. The next step would be to attempt a spoonful or two of mashed vegetables and fruit, always remembering that a small amount is best at this important stage.
How often should I introduce a new food?
Following the introduction of one new food, it is best to leave around five days to a week before introducing another as you don’t want to overwhelm their system and it will also allow you to assess the effect of each new food or any problems which may result.
Salt and sugar in Baby’s diet
Limiting salt and sugar intake will stand your baby in good stead as treats such as cakes and biscuits contain very little if any nutritional value in comparison to the calories they contain. The sugar in such snacks also increases chances of tooth decay. Although your baby is born with a natural taste for sweet it is in fact the opposite with salt so avoiding salty snacks such as crisps lessens the chances of your baby developing a taste for these at an early stage in life which will in turn help them maintain good eating habits early on. At this crucial stage it is advised to avoid adding salt or sugar to baby’s diet at all.
In order to avoid confusion regarding juice, the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends no more than 120ml of juice per day but only when bub is able to drink from a cup on their own. The proportions advised are 30ml of juice to one of water and should only be introduced when your baby has reached 6 months.
Baby’s Iron Requirements
Iron is integral to baby’s brain development and the formation of haemoglobin which helps the oxygenation of the blood. In order to receive the correct intake of iron, the average toddler needs to consume the amount that is equivalent to three ounces (or 85 grams) of meat or other food stuff which are rich in iron such as cereal, bread or beans. It may be a surprise to discover that a toddler requires around five times more iron per pound than a full grown man.
Breast Milk and Cow’s Milk
Having discussed how not to give your baby the wrong things it is important to touch upon making sure your baby gets enough of the right things. During this time babies are developing quickly both internally and externally which requires a huge amount of energy. Breastmilk is the primary source of nutrition, the baby requires at least 710mls a day. You may like to incorporate cow’s milk into your baby’s diet but only after the age of 1. The importance of breastmilk in the baby’s diet ensures a good supply of calcium which will help to build strong healthy bones and teeth. As baby grows so does their need for this important nutrient as a 1 year old needs more than twice the calcium it did at birth.
Whilst it is important for your child to experience a wealth of various tastes and foods, introducing too many foods too early can endanger baby’s health both now and cause allergies at a let stage. All of this information can at first seem overwhelming but if you follow these simple guidelines of what to avoid your baby will maintain a healthy diet which will set them up perfectly for when their bodies are ready to receive all these different flavours and textures. In the first year potential allergens, in other words danger foods to look out for are chocolate, nuts, corn, peanut butter, egg whites, fish and seafood. It is also advised that wheat be avoided throughout at least the first 8 months.
If there is already a history of food allergies in the family it is recommended that eggs be delayed until the age of 2 and nuts and fish avoided until age 3. Honey should be avoided at least for the first year as it has been the cause of infant botulism poisoning which can carry serious effects. It may seem fairly obvious but avoiding giving your baby large chunks of food such as whole grapes, nuts, carrot sticks and pieces of meat are extremely important. Children under 4 aren’t able to chew with the hard grinding motion needed to break up such foods therefore these chunks could easily become a choking hazard.
It is likely that your baby’s tastes in food will change frequently, and it may be difficult to ensure that your baby gets the adequate nutrition he or she needs daily what with all the new interest they are taking in the world around them. However, we hope that Cherub Baby’s advice will set your mind at ease and provide you with some useful information concerning your baby’s health and well being, making your job as mum as easy as possible.
The best way to ensure your baby has the healthiest diet is to make home made baby food – view our baby feeding products here perfect for starting bub on solids.