Baby Food Nutrition Guide
Introducing solid food to your baby can be a fun but challenging experience. Now that your baby is growing, she needs different kinds of nutrition that canï¿½t be found in milk or formula alone. But what kinds of food should babies be eating? And how much food do babies require in order to maintain a healthy diet? Weï¿½ve compiled a step-by-step baby food nutrition guide that will ensure your children will develop excellent healthy eating habits - infant feeding has never been easier!
Starting Baby on Solids
When your baby is about six months old, she is generally ready to start eating baby food that is solid. Before this stage, milk or iron-fortified formula gives your baby all she needs in terms of nutrition and calcium.
Also, before a baby nears the half-year mark, his digestive system simply isnï¿½t ready for solids. Starting baby on solids before this age also increases the risk of an allergic reaction to certain foods and increases the length of time that your baby will need to transition between spoon feeding and self-feeding.
However, because babies very often become picky eaters at this stage, introducing solid foods to your baby can be challenging.
It is also worth noting that when babies starting eating solid foods, their stool might change color and odor; it generally will have a stronger in odor and be less watery.
How Do I Know if My Baby is Ready to Start Solid Foods?
Babies will often give their parents clues as to whether theyï¿½re ready to start eating solids. The following signs are good indicators that your baby is ready for this step:
- head control: your baby is able to sit up and can keep his head in a steady position
- your baby sits well when supported
- the "extrusion reflex" stops: your baby no longer pushes back milk or formula with his tongue
- your babyï¿½s weight gain has increased considerably
- your baby is displaying a very strong appetite
- chewing motions. Babiesï¿½ tongues and mouths develop at the same time as their digestive system, as do their teeth
- curiosity in adult food
How Much Food Does My Baby Need?
Start with a once-daily feeding when introducing solids to your baby. Have feedings when itï¿½s convenient for both you and your child: make sure you are not pressed for time or that your baby is cranky or tired.
Childrenï¿½s appetites can vary from feeding to feeding. Look for signs that your baby is full, such as:
- leans back
- turns his head away. If your child turns away from a food, donï¿½t push. Forcing food can be very upsetting for an infant and can cause eating problems later on in his life. Try to introduce the food again in a week or so.
- baby doesnï¿½t open mouth. Sometimes babies need a long time to chew and swallow their food, so wait and make sure your baby is indeed full
- lack of interest in food
By the time your baby is eight months old, she should be eating three solid meals a day.
Food Nutrition Guide: What Should My Baby Be Eating?
Introducing healthy food to your child is essential in order to make sure she gets the nutrition she needs to develop properly and so that she develops healthy eating habits. Make sure your baby gets a variety of food from the food guide pyramid.
At four to six months, the best solid food to introduce to your infantï¿½s feeding schedule is plain infant cereal fortified with iron. Make sure the cereal is free of fruit or vegetables, because of their high sugar content. Rice cereal is a good starter food for your infant, as it is free of gluten and also has a low allergy risk. Mix cereal with milk in order to make a semi-liquid that is easy to digest. Also, try feeding your baby with a rubber-tipped spoon in order to avoid injury to his gums. If your baby doesnï¿½t seem interested in the cereal, let him smell and taste it first using his own hands. Never add solids to a bottle of milk because it can pose a choking hazard and also confuses the two processes of eating liquids and solids.
From five to seven months, introduce vegetables, which are an excellent source of fiber, such as peas, squash, green and yellow beans, as well as carrots and potatoes. String all foods or mash them so that they are easy to digest.
Once your child reaches seven to twelve months, itï¿½s a good time to start introducing sources of protein like mashed up chicken or other meat, as well as milk products like yogurt and cheese. Finger foods like unsalted crackers and bread crusts are other foods your baby is now able to digest.
Remember that even after introducing solids to your infant, you should continue with breast milk up until your baby is about one years old, in order to provide a supplementary source of vitamins, iron and protein.
Make sure to limit fatty foods, like French fries and butter, as well as sugary foods, like jello and fruit juice during the first year of your child life, in order to make sure their diet is healthy and full of the nutrition they need to grow.
Foods that can pose choking hazards should also be avoided, such as popcorn, nuts, seeds and fish with bones. Foods that can cause an allergic reaction include peanuts and peanut butter and should be avoided for at least the first year of life. Signs of a food allergy include: a rash, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and breathing problems. If you suspect your child might be allergic to a certain food, talk to your childï¿½s doctor right away.
How Can I Help My Baby Develop Healthy Eating Habits?
Here are some easy tips to make sure your baby is eating healthy foods:
- donï¿½t overfeed your baby
- donï¿½t force your baby to eat
- make sure your babyï¿½s diet is healthy and contains a balance of vegetables, carbohydrates and fruits and little to no fat or sugar
- donï¿½t give your baby too many liquids. Give your baby no more than 16 to 24 ounces of milk a day an no more than 4 to 6 ounces of fruit juice
- make sure your baby doesnï¿½t fill up on unhealthy snacks
- keep portion sizes under control. A typical serving for a baby should be roughly one-fourth that of an adult serving