Baby food is a great complement to breast or formula feeding but it’s important to keep it healthy and avoid some ingredients. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about feeding and preparing baby food.
When is baby food suitable for your child?
For the first six months, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that you breastfeed or bottle feed your baby. Some baby food companies advertise that you can start around 4 months, but at that age the intestine isn’t developed enough to process solid food as well as later.
Signs that your child is ready for baby food
Watch for these signs that your sweetheart is ready for baby food, and hold off on solids until you’re confident they meet the following milestones:
- Your baby can hold up their head without help.
- They can sit upright with little support.
- The tongue thrust reflex has disappeared. Babies reflexively spit everything out of their mouths, so if your baby keeps pushing the baby food out with her tongue, they’re not trying to upset you, and it’s not a sign that something doesn’t taste good. Your child is just not ready, so wait another few weeks to try the baby food again.
- Your baby can coordinate the movement of her hand to her mouth (aka has a good “pincer grasp”)
- They show interest in their parents’ food. This is more than sitting with her mouth open at the table. Does your baby grab the broccoli on your plate and chew it? Then this sign of maturity is fulfilled. Does he mimic the chewing of others? They may be ready.
Baby food should be fun
You should never force your little one to eat. If they signal that they’re full, finish the meal. Don’t play games like “one more bite! Open wide!” Keep the same tone while feeding the baby that you would for any family meal. Avoid hectic mealtimes and reduce stress by turning off the TV and putting away your cell phone. “No toys at the table” is another great rule to minimize these distractions.
Think of the phrase “eating under one is just for fun.” Children should enjoy eating and not associate it with frustration. In addition, we train them for the natural feeling of satiety and hunger – which can otherwise lead to being overweight and having eating disorders later on.
Baby food complements the bottle
Don’t get too wrapped up with published meal plans stating when breast or bottle milk is to be replaced by the jar. There isn’t one “right time” to introduce solids. Each child is different.
Food in the first year of life is not described by nutrition experts as “complementary food” for nothing. You should give it in addition to milk and not instead of.
It’s fine not to introduce many solid foods in the first year. Those who continue to breastfeed provide their child with all the important nutrients. So you don’t have to worry if your baby doesn’t eat much, because it is quite normal that their food consumption will fluctuate.
How do you start with baby food?
Choose a time when your child is not too tired, has a fresh diaper, and is generally in a happy mood. Most mothers choose lunch time for the first try. The baby should not have just been breastfed, but also not be completely hungry. It is best to offer the baby food about one to one and a half hours after the last milk meal.
Which baby foods are suitable for the start?
At first, babies best tolerate soft vegetables such as carrots or peas. These should start at around six months. Meat and fish are usually not added until the age of about eight months. Various cereals and processed dairy products may complete the menu from about ten months on. Although it used to be recommended that infants avoid foods that might cause allergies, new studies have shown that introducing babies to these types of foods at an early age – as young as 6 months – can be beneficial.
Other parents use more of a free-range approach to baby food and simply let the baby eat whatever table foods the rest of the family can eat. Parents who use this approach say it’s easier and more cost effective than traditional baby food. Others prefer serving conventional baby foods specifically designed for early eaters.
Can I cook my own baby food?
More and more mothers are also starting to cook their own baby food. Many lack confidence in the food industry, so homemade baby food might offer a safer approach. Product recalls, food scandals, and questionable company policies might be another reason to make your own food.
Plus, when you’re cooking food yourself, you know what’s in it. You can choose the food and, for example, only prepare organic products. You can also tailor the taste to the preferences of your child.
How do I prepare baby food?
You can use a pressure cooker to prepare baby food. Dice meat and place it in the bottom of the pot with about one cup of water. A steamer is another tool that allows you to gently cook chopped potatoes and other vegetables. When everything is ready, you puree the soft foods in a multi-function device like a blender or food processor. It’s important that you also use the water from the pot since it contains the nutrients.
Fill an ice cube tray with the puree in order to perfectly portion the baby food. Freezer storage also ensures a more sanitary environment, but also be sure your ice tray and other materials have been well-cleaned.
What if I just can’t make my own baby food?
Of course, there are benefits to using store-bought baby foods, too. Many companies now use organic ingredients, and have specific nutritional standards that they must meet for production. Also, even though it doesn’t take too much time, a lot of parents just don’t have the time and energy to make their own baby food. Convenient fruit and veggie pouches are also easier to give your child if you’re out and about than spooning homemade baby food out of an ice tray.
If this is you, that’s okay! As long as your child is getting important vitamins and nutrients, you’re doing a great job with feeding.
When it comes to feeding your baby, there’s no one-size fits all strategy. While you want to avoid giving your child sugary sodas or junk food, you can choose any reasonable feeding method that works well for your baby and family, whether it’s homemade organic baby food, ordinary table food, or prepackaged conventional baby food.
Your family might also have great baby feeding suggestions, so chatting with relatives about baby food tips on platforms like the FamilyApp could be another place to get menu ideas for your little ones.
Some children are naturally more selective eaters than others, and sometimes limiting factors like allergies or acid reflux could heavily influence your meal plan. Even if your baby rejects solid food altogether for some time, don’t fret! They’ll still have decades of good eating ahead of them.