Article courtesy of Dorimar Siverio-Minardi, MPH, MBA, Director, Healthcare Relations & Initiatives, Women’s Care Florida & Mom extraordinaire
Once it is time for your baby to have more than breast milk or formula, many people head for the baby food isle in the store and stock up on jars of this and boxes of that. This is not necessary. Not only is it expensive but the food is also less nutritious than what you can make yourself. Most often, you can take what you are making for yourself and the rest of the family and modify it for baby. And it does not have to take a lot of time. I have a very demanding job that requires more than just 9-5, yet I have been able to make all of Leia’s food since she started on solid food for home, day care and when we go out to eat. You can too. The extra effort will pay off in a very healthy child.
When is it time to think about solid food? A conversation with your pediatrician first is a good idea, but generally, between 4-6 months of age, modified (pureed) solid food can be introduced.
Baby Food Tips (Source: Florida WIC.com)
Buy only plain vegetables and fruits, (that means fresh, whole foods from the produce section). Your homemade baby foods have a greater nutritional value when compared to baby food mixed dinners. Plain meats can be mixed with plain vegetables or fruits to make your own “mixed” dinners.
- Plain fruits should be served instead of baby desserts.
- Baby desserts contain added sugars and starches, and are low in vitamins.
- If you do choose to buy something in a jar, feed your baby from a bowl, not from the jar. This way, the baby’s saliva on the spoon will not spoil the food left in the jar. Refrigerate any food left in the jar and use within 2 days; use meat or egg yolk within 24 hours. Any food left in the bowl should be thrown away.
Prevent Choking (Source: Florida WIC.com)
These foods can cause choking and should not be given to your baby:
- popcorn, chips, and pretzels
- peanut butter, nuts, and seeds
- hard cookies, granola, or granola bars
- raisins and other dried fruits
- raw vegetables such as carrots and celery
- large pieces of food
- round shaped candies, gum drops, chewing gum, and marshmallows
- hard pieces of fruit, whole grapes, whole cherries, or fruits with pits or seeds
- hot, sticky breads that can “ball up” and cause choking
- fish, chicken, or turkey with bones
- hot dogs and sausages—these also should not be fed to babies because they are high in fat and salt.
- “baby food” meat sticks—these foods are not intended for infants under 1 year of age.
4 to 6 Months Recommendations (Source: Baby Center.com)
Signs of readiness for solid food
Your baby probably won’t do all these things – they’re just clues to watch for:
- Can hold head up
- Sits well in highchair
- Makes chewing motions
- Shows significant weight gain (birth weight has doubled)
- Shows interest in food
- Can close mouth around a spoon
- Can move food from front to back of mouth
- Can move tongue back and forth, but is losing tendency to push food out with tongue
- Seems hungry after 8 to 10 feedings of breast milk or 40 oz. of formula in a day
- Is teething
What to feed
- Breast milk or formula, PLUS
- Pureed food like baked or steamed sweet potatoes, squash, apples, peaches, or pears or semi-liquid iron-fortified cereal. Very soft fruit like ripe bananas can be pureed or mashed with a fork without cooking first. The food can be pureed in a food processor or a blender. Sweet potatoes, squash and fruits freeze well after being pureed, so make a bunch and place in small, freezer safe containers to use when you are too busy to cook. Thaw in the refrigerator or microwave.
How much per day
- Begin with about 1 teaspoon pureed food or cereal. Mix cereal with 4 to 5 teaspoons breast milk or formula (it’ll be very runny)
- Increase to 1 tablespoon of pureed food, or 1 tablespoon of cereal mixed with breast milk or formula, twice a day. If giving cereal, gradually thicken the consistency by using less liquid.
- If your baby won’t eat the cereal on the first try, offer it again in a few days.
COMING NEXT……Feeding at 6-8 months!