As your little one reaches the age of five or six months, it’s time to start thinking about introducing semi-solid foods into his or her diet. Before then, mother’s milk is the best food for a baby. Breast milk is easy to digest and provides a rich supply of vitamins and disease-fighting antibodies for the baby. It also fosters a close bonding experience between the baby and his or her mother.
While most mothers have enough milk to satiate their little one’s hunger, the decision to breastfeed is a deeply personal one. Breastfeeding may not be preferable to all women. For mothers who can’t breastfeed or who decide not to, baby formula is a healthy alternative.
Babies should be fed with semi-solids only after the rooting or sucking instinct leaves them. This happens by the fifth or sixth month. At first feeding time will be messy, and probably frustrating, as your baby gets used to the unfamiliar taste and texture of baby food. Some babies will cry because they cannot get food fast enough, while others will spit out the alien texture of semi-solid food. Lots of patience is needed until your baby develops a taste and appetite for the new kinds of food you are introducing into his or her diet.
It’s a good idea to keep the use of store-bought jarred or tinned foods to the minimum. Many of them have additives, extra starch and high levels of sugar. If you decide to make your own baby food, hygiene should be your first concern, followed by nutrition.
- Rinse all equipment with hot water.
- Boil utensils such as spoons, knives and mashers.
- Do not store cooked food in the refrigerator for prolonged periods.
- Discard any leftover baby food, as bacteria forms quickly in unfinished meals.
- Make sure that you introduce new items slowly and in small doses.
- Start with baby cereal; then introduce vegetables and fruits; and then start introducing meats.
When you start introducing semi-solid foods to your baby, he or she should be reasonably hungry by mealtime, but not overly hungry. The first semi solid food all my children started with was iron-fortified infant rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. After that I started introducing vegetables; then fruits; then meats.
At the beginning, babies should have finely pureed foods, as they get a little older and have both upper and lower teeth for chewing, introduce foods that are a little chunkier. As your baby grows, introduce a wider variety of food. If he rejects something, replace it with something else. You can introduce the rejected item after a few weeks or a month.
Although the baby food you make yourself at home is best, not all parents have the time to make homemade baby food. There are some good commercial choices on the market today. Baby food manufacturers understand parents want wholesome baby food for their parents. There are several all natural and organic baby food choices now available to parents – foods that are a safe and healthy alternative to homemade.