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Feeding Your Baby

Some babies are not interested in solid foods for several more months. There is NO advantage to your child by an early, rapid introduction of solid food. From a nutritional viewpoint, all of baby's needs for the first 4 to 6 months of life are supplied by milk (formula or breast). Solids are not necessary during this time. Some of the disadvantages of the early introduction of solids include excessive weight gain, inclusion in the diet of undesirable additives, adverse reactions, and increased cost and inconvenience of preparation.

What to Feed

There is no "right" or "wrong" way to introduce solid foods to your baby. Our guidelines are suggestions to help you do so in a simple, organized manner. We suggest the following progression:

• Iron fortified cereals
These are usually pleasant tasting, easy to prepare, to feed and to digest; there is a low incidence of allergic response. Start with rice cereal, then 1 to 2 weeks' later barley and oatmeal may be tried. A mixed cereal should be added only after each kind of cereal has been separately introduced.

• Vegetables
Yellow carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, spinach, and peas are recommended.

• Meats
Chicken and Veal are usually tolerated well.

• Fruits
Apples and bananas are usually introduced last because their sweetness almost always appeals to babies and they take to them readily.

• Juices
May be offered (including citrus, however, limited quantity).

 

Introduce one food at a time, no more than one food per week. This is easy to follow and helps in identifying any allergic response to new foods. Your baby's diet should eventually include foods from all of the basic food groups.

  • Dairy products

  • Meat, fish, and egg yolk

  • Vegetables and fruits

  • Cereals and breads

Important nutrients in foods are proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and fats. Limit foods which are "sugars" and "calorie only" foods and foods which are low in nutritional quality. Remember that no purpose is served by early, rapid introduction of solid food.

Milk will continue to be a mainstay in your baby's diet until around one year of age. Milk continues to be important throughout childhood, however, your child will take in more solids as he/she develops and will depend less on milk to meet his/her nutritional requirements. As the amount of solids in the diet increases, the demand for milk supply decreases.

You may use commercially prepared baby foods or you may serve home prepared foods. If using commercial preparations, read labels for contents. Select foods that are prepared without added salt or sugar and which are high in nutritional quality i.e., all meats, all green vegetables, etc. The combination foods are usually high in starch. Also combination foods can include a new food which may cause an unwanted response.

Food from a can or jar can be resealed and kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days as long as it has not been heated or baby hasn't been fed from the jar. Remove the desired portion to a small dish or cup and heat as directed.

If you elect to prepare your baby foods at home, prepare his/her portions without added spices, salts, and sugar. Seasoning should be kept to a minimum. You may find a "baby food grinder", "food mill", or a blender helpful to puree your baby's first foods. Later, mashing, mincing or chopping may be sufficient. You may find the attached book list a helpful resource to you in preparing baby's foods at home.

What to Feed

At about 8-12 months of age, finger foods will become enjoyable for your baby. Start at 8-12 months. Crust of toasted whole grain bread, slices of fruit such as apples and bananas, cheese, carrot sticks, and neat sticks are some of the foods he/she may enjoy.

Foods to Avoid

  • Egg white - until one year of age to decrease the possibility of allergic response.

  • Chocolate - until age 2, no nutritional value and possibility of allergic response.

  • Nuts, berries or other small hand foods that may be aspirated into the lungs.

  • Honey before 1 year of age (associated with certain infant illnesses).

  • Sugar and salt additives indefinitely.

How to Begin

  1. Introduce one new food at a time, no faster than one food per week.

  2. 2. Begin with small portions and increase according to your baby's appetite.

  3. At mealtime, you may give your baby his/her milk first and then offer the solid food.

  4. Solid food may be offered at a time of day when it is convenient for you to do so.

  5. At your discretion, you may increase the number of feedings at which you offer solid foods until your baby is on a dietary pattern similar to the rest of your family.

  6. Offer small amounts of food on a teaspoon placed over baby's tongue. He/she may fuss the first few feedings offered.

  7. When your baby shows he/she's ready to begin feeding him/herself, allow him/her to proceed. It's a lengthy and messy process but important for development that he/she is permitted to do so. You may find that your baby will enjoy finger foods.

Reminders

  • Introduce solid foods gradually with patience.

  • Be guided by your baby's interest and readiness for food when deciding to begin solid foods.

  • Introduce one new food at a time.

  • Quality is more important than quantity.

Suggested Reading

  1. The Healthy Family Cookbook by J.U. Marquiles. Discusses basic nutrition. Presents recipes with information pertinent to age at which food can be introduced to the diet.

  2. Making Your Own Baby Food by Mary Dustin Turner and James Turner. Strong criticisms of the baby food industry. Contains guidelines for buying, preparing and serving your own baby food as well as recipes.

  3. Instant Baby Food by Linda McDonald. Easy to read, basic information.

  4. Feed Me! I'm Yours by Vicky Lansky. Full of recipe ideas for children. Contains fun ideas for children's parties, kitchen crafts, and safety.

  5. Let's Cook it Right by Adele Davis. Emphasis on nutrition and preparation of food for simplicity and maximum food value. Lots of recipes.

Our public library has an excellent nutrition section!

Welcome to Rivertown Pediatrics!