Learning how to feed your baby his or her first foods can be tough! We got answers!
It’s time to start weaning your baby off of breastfeeding and to introduce new foods, but where do you start? When it comes to serving sizes, how much of each food group should you be feeding your baby each day? Should you be giving full-fat, or low-fat dairy? We’re here to break it down for you and give you quick tips to make sure you’re on the right track to feeding a growing, healthy baby!
Let’s start at the beginning.
Solids are introduced to your baby between 4-6 months. Some practitioners recommend waiting until 6 months, so you’ll find different practices. Before this, your baby should only get breastmilk or infant formula. But remember, even once solids are introduced, breastmilk or formula should still be the main part of your infant’s diet! As your baby gets older, you’ll help him develop feeding skills, and will introduce solid foods to meet his increasing nutritional requirements and developmental needs. (1)
Breast Milk/Formula + Baby Food = Nutrition for growing baby!
Starting to introduce solids while continuing to breastfeed or formula feed can be both an exciting and an anxious time. Read more about your baby’s first foods to ease some of those nerves, while also keeping these few things in mind as you start making food decisions:
- Think about the texture. After 6 months, baby food provides more textures and exploration. Each baby reaches milestones at different times, but you can start by giving your baby smooth, soft textures like mashed, pureed, and strained foods. Stay cued into what she can tolerate. Use a blender or food processor to get things to the right consistency! (2)
- Go for color. Offering a variety of foods comes hand in hand with a variety of color. Each color food has different beneficial phytochemicals. These will provide the needed nutrients and calories for optimal growth and brain development.
- Keep tabs on when you offer food. It is recommended to slowly increase the number of times a day that food is offered. This will help them digest the foods you are giving them and can reduce gas and fussiness as well. (3,4)
- Remember that not every day is the same. If your baby seems hungry, it’s okay to make adjustments. Weight increases during the first year by 200%, body length by 55% and head circumference by 40 %. Increased growth means increased appetite. Remember, steady growth is important, whether your baby is big or small. (5)
- Include your baby in family meals. Remember that your baby can eat almost all the same foods as you as long as the food is the right texture – just make sure to keep these few food safety tips in mind. Get out that blender and throw in a mix of foods you cooked up for the rest of the family, or make sure to chop them up into small pieces. Remember to salt after cooking and at the table, not before, so you can avoid excess sodium in your child’s diet. You want your baby to create good habits young, which includes observing your healthy habits during family mealtime.
Babies Eat Intuitively
One of the most difficult tasks is to trust our babies to know when they have eaten enough. Remember that they are intuitive eaters – they know when they are hungry and when they are full. If we don’t trust them then we can end up with unsuccessful feeding. Here are three other things to keep in mind:
- Don’t be restrictive. A study showed that moms who thought their child couldn’t recognize appropriate cues for hunger and fullness tended to use restrictive feeding practices because they felt their child would be overweight in the future. (5,6) This can cause your child to have an unhealthy relationship with food.
- Follow Ellyn Satter’s theory of feeding children. Parents offer the what, when and where of feeding and the child or baby decides the how much and whether of eating. (7)
- Get ideas from sample meals. Sometimes parents still feel better with an example! Check out our Food and Meals for a One Year Old Baby and Toddler, Sample Day of Menus for a 1-Year-old, Rethinking Baby Food, & Meals Baby and Family can Enjoy Baby Food Pasta and Kale, and Baby Food Chicken and Quinoa.
Now that you have these main tricks under your sleeve, check out Part 2 of this series to become a baby-feeding master!