Baby Food and Nutrition: A Starter Guide
When your baby hits the milestone of 6 months, it is time to introduce solid foods. Feeding your baby need not be a challenge, and the transition from exclusive breastfeeding or formula feeding to solids can be a breeze.
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding / formula feeding till the baby is six months of age. Till the baby is 6 months old, she doesn’t need any water since breast milk or formula has enough water content. After 6 months, along with nutritious food, the baby also needs water.
Is Your Baby Ready for Solids?
First, determine if your baby is ready for solid foods by watching the following signs:
- Your baby can sit upright with/ without support
- Your baby’s birth-weight has doubled
- Your baby’s tongue thrust reflex has reduced considerably or is almost zero
- Your baby is hungry for more, even after being breastfed or being formula-fed
How to Feed Your Baby When You Start Solids (6-8 months)
Always nurse or formula feed your baby before you offer her solids. Milk continues to be the primary source of nutrition, and the baby might not eat more than a few bites. Feed the baby the same kind of food for three days before you start on another new food. This allows you to identify allergies that the baby might have, if any. You will need to puree the foods for the first couple of months. Offer your baby sips of water while you feed her.
Here are a few foods you can consider for your baby (6-8 months)
Rice, Oats, Lentils (daal)
Avocado, Apples, Banana, Mangoes
Spinach, Pumpkin, Carrot
Feeding your baby chunks (8-10 months)
Between 8 and 10 months, you can introduce new textures of food slowly. You can start by offering mashed versions of the food you have already introduced rather than pureeing them. For example, offer mashed avocado and banana instead of pureeing them. The babies don’t need teeth to eat the chunky foods as they already have strong gums by this age. At this stage, you can mix one or more foods that the baby has been already comfortable with. Continue following the three- day rule when introducing any more new foods and continue offering sips of water regularly.
Finger foods (10-12 months)
Generally, finger food is introduced between 10 and 12 months. Finger feeding helps in development of pincer grip. Pincer grip is the ability to grasp the object between the thumb and index finger. By this time, the baby’s pincer grasp develops. Any food that has a soft texture serves as good finger food. You can serve the baby diced carrots, well cooked pumpkin pieces, peas or even pieces of cottage cheese or well cooked meat. Rice puffs and cereals are a good choice for finger food as well. Don’t serve foods that are too big or too hard to swallow; this might cause choking in babies. Always remember to use a high chair to feed the baby during meals. This will allow the baby to stay in position with the help of chair straps and the tray. And of course, this will also instill discipline early on.
Balanced Diet for Babies and Caution To Be Exercised
Make sure you give your baby a balanced diet. Your baby’s diet should contain:
Cereals, Yogurt, Eggs and Meat (Fish can be introduced earlier, chicken a little later)
Rice, Oats, Wheat
Introduce seasonal fruits
Vegetables should be part of your baby’s daily diet
Cow milk can be introduced after the baby is a year old. Always consult your baby’s paediatrician before introducing new foods to your baby, if you suspect that it might pose an allergy to your baby because of family history. Take cues from your baby as to what she likes and dislikes. Although it’s important to get her to eat a variety of foods eventually, you should take it easy in the beginning and avoid force-feeding.