A parenthood journey is an exciting course of life. You’ll witness your little one’s transitions. His growth may be fast, and his preferences may have changed quickly too. Well, there’s nothing to worry about because it’s a dictate of nature. Just be prepared to guide him no matter how challenging it would be.
If part of his growth is food exploration, let him do it even if it becomes messy. It’s another developmental task he should learn. Besides, it is entertaining to witness his first reactions to new foods and tastes, isn’t it?
This post will discuss the baby’s feeding essentials, giving you valuable insights on how to handle this stage of his life.
What You Must Know
Your baby might be an enthusiastic eater, which is good to know. You don’t need to push hard on what to eat. But how will you know that he is ready to eat solid foods? Below are a few of the cues you can check on:
- He can sit alone all by himself.
- Capable of raising his head up.
- Throws an interest in foods.
- Weight has at least doubled.
These things are observable when his age falls between four and six months. Once confirmed, start making a list of feeding essentials for your baby. You may also consult his pediatrician if you are unsure.
Is Your Child Ready to Eat Solid Foods?
The only nourishment that your newborn requires is either breast milk or infant formula milk. It is highly suggested that breastfeeding be continued exclusively for the first six months after the baby is born. But, by the time they are between 4 and 6 months old, the vast majority of newborns are prepared to start eating solid meals in addition to either breast milk or formula.
Babies often stop using their tongues to force food out of their mouths during this stage and begin to develop the coordination necessary to transport solid food from the front of the mouth to the back of the mouth in preparation for swallowing during this time.
It is inarguably true that breastmilk is the best and complete source of nutrients for your baby. But as his growth and development accelerate, providing him with additional nutrition is needed.
When he reaches six months older, start giving him solid foods to keep up his growing needs. It is vital for maintaining his healthy weight and strength. You may introduce to him at least two or three spoons of healthy solid foods twice a day. They could be mashed vegetables such as potato and squash or blended fruits.
How to Introduce Solid Foods to Your Baby
When the time comes to start introducing solids, try to think of them as “extra” foods because your baby will still be getting the majority of the calories and nutrients they need from breast milk or formula. You should breastfeed or bottle-feed your infant first thing in the morning, either before or after meals and right before they go to bed.
You’re going to have to do some trial and error in the beginning, to figure out what your child responds to best. If you offer them the opportunity, you should feed them first with food and then with a bottle to see if they will drink an entire 6- to 8-ounce bottle before a meal. If they drink in moderation, you should encourage them to drink more heavily. That being said, never force or urge your baby to eat.
What Are the Ideal Baby’s First Solid Foods?
Rice cereal has come a long way since the days when it was the usual breakfast option for babies. There are no strict regulations about the first foods that should be given to a baby in today’s society.
It is vital to provide your infant with a range of fruits, vegetables, and meats in any sequence to get them used to the various flavors. If you’re curious about anything else, you should know that the concept that if you introduce your infant to fruits initially, they’ll only prefer sweets later is a misconception, so feel free to experiment with as many fruits as you like.
Single-Grain Cereal Foods
After delivery, the amount of iron that is kept in the uterus begins to decrease, and by the time a baby is approximately 9 months old, it has reached an all-time low. For this reason, cereals that have been fortified with iron are an excellent choice for early breakfast food.
Mix 1 milliliter of cereal made from a single grain with between 4 and 5 milliliters of breast milk or formula. When your infant first starts eating cereal, the majority of it will probably end up on their chin. The goal is to accustom your child to eat in a manner that is different from their normal routine. You have to go through with this process, even though it is clumsy and annoying.
Do not try to pressure your baby to keep eating if they have only taken one mouthful and have shown signs of refusal such as shaking their head, turning away, or refusing to open their mouth. Wait about a week and then give cereal another shot if the child appears to have absolutely no interest in tasting it. When your child has gotten used to the consistency of runny cereal, you can make it thicker by adding more cereal and less water or breast milk.
Pureed Vegetables, Fruits, and Meats
You may have heard that putting fruits and vegetables in the same meal can develop a taste for sweet foods later in life, however, there is no data to support this theory. Hence, it is up to you to decide whether you start with bananas, carrots, or even pureed chicken. The choice is yours. Especially if your child is at risk for developing food allergies, starting your child young with allergenic foods can help lessen the likelihood that they will develop an allergy to food.
Talk to the pediatrician who will be caring for your child if you have a family history of food allergies in your family about the safest and most effective ways to expose your child to allergens often encountered in the environment. Peanuts, eggs, and dairy products are some examples of foods that frequently cause allergic reactions.
Finger Foods Made from a Single Ingredient
Several babies take pleasure in beginning the process of self-feeding at an early age, whether they started off with purees or are just beginning solids with finger foods. Do not provide any items that are raw and hard to chew, such as apple slices and carrot sticks. Check to see if the fruits and vegetables are tender enough to be mashed using the mild pressure of your thumb and forefinger. Peas that have been cooked, bite-sized bits of banana or avocado, and rice puffs are other tasty examples.
While younger babies will be scooping up food with their entire palms, larger items, such as a pile of mashed potatoes or a wedge of avocado, will be easier for them to manage than more delicate foods. It’s better if your baby learns to prefer the meal on its own, without the added sodium or sweets, so avoid putting salt or sugar in their food.
Chopped or Mashed Foods
As soon as your youngster is ready, wean them off smooth purees. Increase the number of finger foods with different textures, such as yogurt, cottage cheese, mashed sweet potatoes, and bananas. They may also benefit from increased iron intake; hence, pureed meats such as beef, chicken, or turkey are recommended.
Handling the baby’s transition includes safety, as always. It must be on top of your priority list. Every product he uses must be certified with non-toxic materials. It is a crucial responsibility, and you can narrow down your preferences to three types of materials.
- Silicone stands longer against the heat, and it is non-toxic.
- Glass is safe to use as compared to plastic. It doesn’t leech to foods because of its stable chemical composition. Furthermore, it has a high resistance to harmful chemicals.
- Stainless steel is awesome material if you are looking for durability. It is the best fit for wear and tear type of usage.
What Are the Harmful Chemicals?
Below are a few of the chemicals you should be watchful. They’re often found in plastic wares.
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – is an extremely toxic chemical to the human body and the environment. Plus, it comes with more dangerous additives linked to reproductive problems, asthma, allergies, and other medical conditions.
- BPA + BPS (bisphenols) – These chemicals are considered endocrine disruptors linked to prostate cancer, female infertility, breast cancer, etc.
Babies Feeding Essentials
Are you prepared now for your baby’s food adventure? Below is stuff you can add to your list.
- CPR: To others, this might not be of strong importance. But you need to have this for your child’s safety. Exploring solid foods might go off the lane. He can get choked at any time, which is risky.
- High chair with footplate: It helps to reduce the choking risk as your child starts to eat solid foods. As long as your child can independently control his head in an upright position with a stable trunk, this tool helps to minimise choking incidence.
- Bibs: Choose one that can be tied at his back. He can’t pull it and shall not bother his neck. But it must be sleek and convenient on his body. Of course, it should be easy to wash and clean.
- Nursing Pillow: It might not be compulsory, but it does help in handling a baby’s weight while feeding him. It is your support from the toll of back pain or neck pain.
- Burp Cloth: Definitely, a handy cloth that catches your baby’s spits upon burping.
- Food Warmer: It helps to keep your baby’s food warm for two hours and prevents the growth of bacteria.
- Spoons, cups, and plates: In the early months of your baby, you can gradually introduce him to eating utensils that are easier to grasp by his tiny hands, like spoons. “Spoons are great to have baby play with at mealtime even if they are not using them for food. Infants can be introduced to a spoon earlier than we expect them to learn how to use it,” Ashley Anttila, MD, Nemours Children’s Health, Delaware, tells Verywell Family.
- Splash Mat: Expect that even if the high chair has space for messed foods, some portions do really land on the floor. They can be sticky and hard to clean if you don’t use a splash mat.
- Baby Food Maker: You’ll definitely need this if you’re fond of preparing a bunch of foods for your baby.
Every child is unique, but all kids undergo growth and developmental stages of life. As parents, you must always be ready to face the challenges that come along with it. Preparing feeding essentials can be done ahead of time.
But if you are a breastfeeding mom, there is nothing to make a fuss about yet. You can wait until he reaches four or six months old. Then, start making a list of feeding essentials to match his transitions.