Baby Milestone : When They Can Manage Finger Foods
Babies between ages 7 and 11 months usually tell you theyre ready to eat more grown-up foods by trying to grab them from you. Almost any food that is healthy and nutritious and has a soft texture makes a good finger food, if its cut small enough: diced pasta small pieces of well-cooked vegetables such as carrots, peas, or zucchini and pea-sized bites of chicken or soft meat. Small, unsweetened round cereals and cereal puffs are also a good choice. Avoid feeding your baby grapes, hot dogs , nuts, and hard candy, as they are choking hazards.
At first babies rake food into their hand, but soon they develop the pincer grasp that allows them to pick up small objects between thumb and forefinger. At that point, your baby can become a pro at self-feeding, so encourage finger foods and let your baby explore!
What Should I Know About Food Allergies When Introducing Solids
Although it was once common to delay giving a baby certain foods like eggs, seafood, nuts and some dairy in the hopes of staving off allergies, the AAP no longer recommends doing so since the data shows that holding off on certain foods does not prevent food allergies.
In fact, the AAP now says that introducing allergenic foods like peanut butter earlier in a child’s life between 4 and 6 months and certainly by 11 months actually reduces her chances of developing a food allergy. Just be sure you’ve successfully introduced a couple of other solids first, and be sure to introduce the foods one at a time at home .
Can I Add Spices To Baby Food
As I note elsewhere, experiments suggest that babies enjoy flavors like garlic, and overall, the evidence is clear: There is nothing natural or normal about restricting infants to flavorless, bland food.
Even before they are born, opens in a new window infants are exposed to flavors in the foods that their mothers eat. Food flavors are also opens in a new windowpresent in breast milk. And in cultures throughout the world, babies first foods are mashed up or pureed versions of the foods their parents eat.
This doesnt mean we should spice up an infants food with reckless abandon. Babies may experience flavors a bit differently than we do, and have a lower tolerance for bitter flavors and spicy irritants.
Moreover, some commercially available spices are contaminated with lead. It makes sense to avoid overwhelming your infant with intense flavors, and to be cautious about the source of your spices.
But studies indicate that babies tend to like flavors they have encountered via their mothers diets during gestation and breastfeeding. So if spices like garlic, cumin, or cinnamon are a part of your diet, your baby may be appreciative of such flavors.
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What Is The Best Food For A Premature Infant
While there is no perfect food to start with for premature babies, aim to introduce a wide variety of nutrient dense solids over those first several months of starting solids. This way, any amount that is swallowed has a big impact. Use our first food database to filter by 5-star foods, to find the most nutrient dense options that suit your family and culture, and serve these. Keep in mind that premature babies may have developmental delays, medical issues , or sensory processing differences, which can all impact the speed of learning new skills and may put a premature baby at increased risk for choking compared with full term peers. Due to this, we advise you to default to the safest food preparations possible when starting solids, go slow, and use extra caution when advancing to finger foods.
What Should A Babys First Food Be
If you live in the United States, youve probably heard recommendations about unseasoned rice, puréed and mixed with breast milk or formula. Typically, parents are advised to mix infant rice cereal to a very thin consistency.
This works. Its acceptable. But there havent been any studies showing that rice is the best choice, and if you take an anthropological perspective looking at how people have fed their babies worldwide its clear that rice is just one of many infant foods.
For example, in traditional agricultural societies, parents provide their babies with a strained or puréed mash of whatever carb-rich staple was at hand millet, corn, oats, or rice and mixed it with animal milk.
Hunter-gatherers offered their babies mashed-up fish, meat, and animal fat .
Nowadays, medical organizations are more savvy to all of this, and they recognize that babies may begin with a variety of different puréed foods.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that puréed meats are good first foods, especially for babies that have been exclusively breastfed. Meats are a good source of iron, and iron stores can become depleted in breastfed babies.
Other good choices include puréed bananas, apples, pears, peaches, and sweet potatoes.
But the emphasis is on puréed foods not chunks, globs, or sticky pastes. These latter foods, like nut butters, are choking hazards, so keep these away from your baby.
Likewise, dont add honey to your babys foods it can cause botulism.
When Can Babies Start Eating Baby Food Tips For When And How To Introduce Solid Foods To Your Baby
If your baby is giving grown-up food a lingering stare, leaning in toward mom with her every bite, or opening their mouth and smacking their lips like its their turn for a taste, its probably time to start introducing solid foods to their diet, says Kristen S. Treegoob, MD, a pediatrician at CHOP Primary Care, Haverford.
Here, Dr. Treegoob offers advice for when and how to introduce solid foods to babies. She encourages parents to consider the whole process an adventure it will take some trial and error , but you and your baby will get there!
How To Start Introducing Solids
Solid foods can be introduced in any order as long as they are iron-rich and the food is the right texture. Look for signs that your baby’s ready for solids.
There is no clear recommendation about the best time of day to offer first solids. But it can be helpful to give your baby solids after a milk feed, mid-morning, so if they’re unsettled, it’s less likely to impact their night-time sleep.
If you find your baby loves solid foods so much that they’re cutting back on their breastfeeds or bottle feeds, reduce the amount of solids you’re offering. Milk is still an important source of nutrition for the first 9 to 12 months of life.
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As Your Baby Ages From Newborn To Infant You May Wonder: When Should She Start Solid Food The Easiest Answer Is After Six Months Old But Why
Thereâs nothing magical about the day she turns six months old! Youâll want to look for these signs in your baby. Ideally, she has all of these benchmarks.
How To Start Solid Foods
In the beginning your baby will only need a small amount of food before their usual milk feed.
Do not worry about how much they eat. The most important thing is getting them used to new tastes and textures, and learning how to move solid foods around their mouths and how to swallow them.
They’ll still be getting most of their energy and nutrients from breast milk or infant formula.
There are some foods to avoid giving to your baby. For example, do not add sugar or salt to your baby’s food or cooking water.
Babies should not eat salty foods as it’s not good for their kidneys, and sugar can cause tooth decay.
Tips to get your baby off to a good start with solid foods:
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Best First Foods For Baby Led Weaning
Here are some of our favorite first foods to offer baby led weaning style. You want foods to be finger sized so they are large enough that baby cant force the whole piece into their mouth, and a shape thats easy for a 6 month old to hold with their chubby little hands. These are some of our favorites.
- Toast sticks with mashed avocado
- Avocado spears
- Lamb or beef, on the bone or a large piece for baby to suck on
- Dark meat chicken, on the bone or a large piece for baby to suck on.
TIP: The foods should generally be soft enough to squish between your fingers with the exception of the large pieces of meat. If baby gnaws a piece down into a smaller piece, replace it with a larger one to avoid her putting a chunk of food into her mouth.
Why Did The Food Allergy Guidelines Change
The American Academy of Pediatrics published guidelines in 2000 recommending that infants not consume milk until they were 1 year old, eggs until age 2, and peanuts, tree nuts, fish, or shellfish until their third birthdays. There was no evidence that delaying those foods prevented eczema and food allergies, so in 2008 those guidelines were changed.
But it was unclear when and how to begin giving those foods to young children. As a result, many parents were confused about how to protect their children and remained cautious. Mothers-to-be cut certain foods out of their diets and left them out as they began nursing. But this prevented kids from getting much-needed nutrients, which is partly why organizations have released new guidelines in recent years.
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Plan Wisely For Your Baby
You want your baby to get the nutrition they need to grow up strong and healthy. Today, most women breastfeed their babies. Breastfeeding is important and gives your baby just the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Breastfeeding provides antibodies and other immune factors. These help protect against infections and disease.
How To Get Started On Solid Food
If your baby is showing all of the above signs of readiness, hooray! A food adventure awaits! There is no perfect way to introduce solid food to your baby for the very first time, but there are three general approaches to feeding: baby-led weaning , spoon-feeding, and combo feeding . Regardless of the approach you take, solid food should complementnot replace breast/human milk or formula until your baby is at least one year old.
To learn more about each of these feeding approaches, hop over to our section on methods and feel free to improvise. Food is cultural and every family is different.
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Consider Food Allergy Risk
In the past, recommendations differed on how to introduce highly allergenic foods. Newer research suggests that early introduction of peanuts may be beneficial for avoiding allergies, especially in babies with eczema.
Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of food allergies about how to proceed. Introducing peanuts should not be done with whole peanuts or large amounts of peanut butter, due to choking risk. Your doctor can offer tips on safely adding peanuts to your babys diet.
Of course, peanuts arent the only allergen. Common allergens include:
How To Cut Foods For Blw
You generally want the food to be big enough that it would be difficult for baby to put the entire thing into their mouths. Here are some specifics:
- Foods that are roughly the size of a finger, so about a 4-inch stick.
- Foods that are easy for the baby to pick upthey cant pick up small pieces until closer to 9 months when they develop the ability to use their fingers in whats known as a pincer grasp.
- Foods that arent too slipperyso you can wash and leave some of the peel on fresh foods like bananas, avocado, kiwi, and mango.
TIP: You can also go even bigger if youre worried about size. Think half of a slice of bread or a big chunk of watermelon.
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Things No One Told You About Starting Your Baby On Solids
Starting to eat solid foods is a big milestone in your little beans life. After several months of a milk-only diet, theyre ready to add in some variety. As parents, this can be a time when lots of questions come up. How the f*& $ do I do this?! Dont worry we got you.
1. Babies start solid foods at different ages
While the average age to start on solids is 6 months, some babies may be ready as early as 5 months, while others may take their time and wait until 7 months. Here are some signs your baby is ready for solids:
- Theyre able to sit up & hold their head up on their own.
- They dont automatically push solid foods out of their mouth with the tongue-thrust reflex.
- They have begun to develop their pincer grasp, meaning that they are working on their ability to grab things between their thumb and forefinger.
- They are beginning to show an increased interest in watching you eat.
- Youve gotten the go-ahead from your childs pediatrician. When in doubt, it doesnt hurt to get your main docs opinion.
2. Feeding your baby is a spectator sport
Ill try to keep this light on the sports analogies but youll want to keep your eyes on the player its important to constantly pay attention to your babys reaction to new foods and keep an eye out for any potential gagging. No baby should ever be left alone with food.
3. Theyre going to be eating constantly
4. It takes time
5. Youre going to need really good quality bibs
6. When babies eat, its messy
Knowing When To Introduce Solids
Hungry babies should be offered more breast or formula feeds until they are ready for solids.Some parents may be tempted to start solids early to help their baby grow, sleep or settle better. However, introducing solids too early may lead to problems such as:
- Poor growth especially where solid food replaces breast milk or formula.
- Loose bowel actions or diarrhoea because a baby is unable to digest solid food.
Although you may find introducing solids tricky, dont be put off by your first attempts or your babys lack of interest. You will eventually learn their cues and when they are ready.
Starting solids too late may also lead to health problems such as:
- Delayed growth due to low energy intake.
- Iron deficiency anaemia.
- Feeding problems particularly if solids have not started before 7 to 9 months.
Be guided by your baby and if you have any concerns, speak to a maternal and child health nurse or doctor.
Victorian families can visit your local maternal and child health service to check babys health, learning and development at 10 key ages and stages.
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Carefully And Gradually Introduce Solid Foods For Baby
You should also note that feeding your baby with solid foods prior to 4 months of age might lead to digestive issues. Plus, once you get to the point where your child is ready, knowing which solid foods for baby are best and how to prepare them helps you to avoid any mishaps like choking or aspirating. Here are a few tips from Dr. Desiraju:
It is crucial to start feeding them one food at a time for three to five days. It helps you identify what works for your child and what does not.
- Start with small amounts like a teaspoon at a time.
- Wait until after breast or bottle feeding to give solid foods
- Introduce a single-grain cereal mixed with formula or breast milk
- Incorporate pureed vegetables, fruits, and meats one food at a time
- Wait a few days before trying a new food to check for allergies
- Refrain from giving your baby processed meats like hot dogs or cold cuts
Finally, if youre preparing your own baby food, youll need to remember to avoid honey , seeds, and fruit juices. On the other hand, you can also find some excellent, nutritious baby foods that are already pre-made. Either option would work well.
Sometimes when questioning when can my baby eat solid food, parents might get overly enthusiastic about sharing whats on their plate. Theres no need to worry. Your child will gain the right amount of nutrients from formula or breast milk while exploring the healthiest choices of solid foods.
To 12 Months: Chopped Ground Or Mashed Foods
As soon as your child is able, transition them away from smooth purees. Incorporate more finger foods with texture like yogurt, cottage cheese, mashed bananas, and mashed sweet potatoes. They can also use more iron, so try pureed meats like beef, chicken, and turkey.
Honey: It can cause botulism, a serious illness, if introduced too early.
Cow’s milk: Stick with breast milk and formula as a primary beverage until your baby is one year old. It’s fine to use cow’s milk in cooking or baking, though.
Choking hazards. Avoid these choking hazards during your baby’s first year: nuts, seeds, raisins, hard candy, grapes, hard raw vegetables, popcorn, peanut butter, and hot dogs.
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