As your baby grows their tastes and nutritional needs will change. Introducing solids into your baby’s diet should be an adventure and needn’t be a stressful chore. You can start with soft foods such as rice cereal and then graduate to nourishing foods such as soft fruits and mashed vegetables. As your baby gets older, you can incorporate textured foods with a wider variety of flavours.
At what age should I start introducing solids?
The suggested age to start introducing solids to your baby is around 4-6 months. Any earlier and your baby is not 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 must be nutritious without being too sophisticated or overdeveloped for their palate. Rice cereal is a good first choice as it is easily digestible, rich in iron and unlikely to induce allergies. Furthermore, it is a plain food which will not aggravate your baby’s developing digestive system.
Once your baby is able to comfortably swallow a few teaspoons 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. However, always remember that a small amount is best at this important stage.
You can read more about how to introduce solid foods to your baby here.
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. You don’t want to overwhelm your baby’s system. In addition, introducing new foods one at a time will also allow you to assess the effect of each new food for any problems each may cause.
Salt and sugar in baby’s diet
Limiting salt and sugar intake will stand your baby in good stead. Treats such as cakes and biscuits contain very little, if any, nutritional value in comparison to the calories they contain. The sugar also increases chances of tooth decay at a later stage.
Avoiding salty snacks such as crisps lessens the chances of your baby developing a taste for these at an early stage. This will 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
A baby is born with enough iron to last them until they are 4-6 month old. After this it is important to feed them solids that are rich in iron. Iron is integral to baby’s brain development and the formation of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin 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 85g of meat or other food stuff which are rich in iron. It may come as a surprise to discover that a toddler requires around five times more iron than a fully grown person.
Breast Milk and Cow’s Milk
During the early stages, babies are developing quickly both internally and externally which requires a huge amount of energy. Breastmilk is a primary source of nutrition, and your baby will need at least 710ml a day. You may want to incorporate cow’s milk into your baby’s diet, however this should only be done after the age of 12 months.
The importance of breastmilk in the baby’s diet ensures a good supply of calcium. Calcium helps to build strong healthy bones and teeth. As baby grows so does their need for this important nutrient. A 1 year old needs more than twice the calcium they did at birth.
Whilst it is important for your child to experience various tastes and textures, introducing too many foods too early can endanger your baby’s health. Plus it can 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. These guidelines will help for when their bodies are ready to receive all these different flavours and textures.
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 is extremely important. Children under 4 aren’t able to chew with the hard grinding motion that is needed to break up such foods. Therefore these chunks could easily become a choking hazard.
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. Plus you should avoid nuts and fish until age 3.
Honey should be avoided at least for the first year. Honey can cause infant botulism poisoning which can have serious effects.
It is likely that your baby’s tastes in food will change frequently. Initially you may find it difficult to ensure that your baby gets the adequate nutrition he or she needs daily. Especially 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!
We’ve also created our very own baby food chart to help you with what to feed baby and when.