What Do I Feed My Baby?
First of all, remember that at that age, breast milk or formula is still the prime source of nutrition for your infant. Solid food is just a supplement at that age, and you should still feed your baby plenty of breast milk or formula.
Often, the first food is baby cereal, like rice or oatmeal. Some babies won’t take cereal, and that’s OK. There’s no harm in your baby skipping the cereal stage and going straight to pureed foods, but we do suggest trying cereal first. It has added iron, which your baby needs at this age. Plus, it’s a nice bridge from the pure liquid diet of breast milk or formula to more solid food.
Don’t put cereal in the bottle. Mix it with formula or water and give it with a spoon. If you’re breast-feeding, don’t mix your breast milk with the cereal for the first few attempts at eating. Until your baby shows that they really will eat it, most of the cereal will wind up somewhere else besides their stomach, like on the floor, their head, or the tray. Your breast milk is too valuable to throw away, so mix the cereal with a little water at first. When your infant is taking it well, then you can mix it with your breast milk.
Make the cereal a little runny at first, closer to the consistency of a liquid. If your baby is taking this well, gradually thicken it to the consistency of oatmeal.
Start by offering just a few spoonfuls at a time. When your baby has gotten the hang of it and seems to want more, work up to about 3 to 4 tablespoons per feeding.
Once your baby has been taking cereal reliably once a day for a week or two, try twice a day feedings. Once they’ve done that reliably for a week or two, then you can start pureed foods.
Traditionally, orange and yellow vegetables have been the first foods to give a baby, but other good foods to try first are bananas or avocado. When giving a food your baby hasn’t had before, give it at least three days in a row before trying another new food. This is to help identify which foods your baby may be allergic or intolerant to.
Also, be aware that many of your child’s later dietary habits often have their beginning in infancy. One study has shown that babies who don’t eat many fruits or vegetables in the 6 to 12 month period probably won’t eat many fruits or vegetables as older children.
There are only a few foods you should not give your baby at this stage:
And unless there is a very good reason (sometimes there are medical reasons to do so), it’s best to avoid giving your child juice at this age. Even 100 percent natural fruit juice has a lot of sugar in it. Excessive sugar intake at this age has been linked to problems later on in life. Intake of sugar-sweetened drinks in infancy has been associated with double the risk of obesity at 6 years old.
You will notice that there are very few foods to avoid. Notably absent from the list are foods like eggs, peanut products, and strawberries. Traditionally, pediatricians told parents to delay these foods, in hopes of preventing food allergies. But new research has shown that early introduction of these foods may actually help prevent allergies. Remember, the foods need to be in a form that is not a choking hazard. A tiny smidgen of creamy peanut butter on a banana, for example, is appropriate, but not a whole peanut. Talk with your doctor if you are worried about potential allergies due to a family history, or if your child may be having an allergic reaction (signs include a rash, vomiting, or diarrhea). Call 911 immediately if your child is having severe symptoms such as trouble breathing.
Babies shouldn’t be drinking cow’s milk at 6 months. But once they are a little more advanced with solids, they can have some yogurt or soft cheese.
When Do I Feed My Baby?
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends delaying solids until 6 months old. Starting on solids much earlier may cause your baby to breast-feed less, causing your breast milk to dry up sooner. Starting too early may also lead to a diet that is low in protein, fat, and other nutrients.
On the other hand, don’t start solids much later than 6 months, as waiting too long can cause some problems with eating. For some children, there is a window of opportunity. If you wait too long to start solids, they don’t seem to “get it,” and may need a speech or occupational therapist to help them learn how to eat solids.
Remember that you are slowly introducing solids to your baby, so there is no need to move too fast. Your infant is probably drinking breast milk or formula six to eight times a day at this stage. The goal, by age 1, is to get them to eat about six times a day:
Parents typically feed their child solids in the morning in the beginning, then add solids to the evening meal a little later. But, of course, you can feed your baby whenever you want. We do recommend that if you’re giving a food for the first time, that you give it earlier in the day so you can see any reaction the child may have.
And don’t start the solids when the baby is famished and crying. If they’re in that state, feed them the breast milk or formula, but maybe not a whole feeding. You want them to still have some room for the cereal. Then after the cereal, give them the rest of the breast milk or formula.
You can also try feeding them a little bit before their breast or bottle, at a time when they might be hungry enough to try solids, but not too hungry to be fussy. There’s no wrong way to do this, so experiment, and see what your baby likes better.
How Do I Feed My Baby?
When giving your baby solids, make sure they’re sitting upright in the high chair, belted in place. Make sure the tray is secure.
When giving cereal or pureed foods, put a little on the spoon, and put the spoon to the baby’s mouth. Many babies will eagerly open their mouths and take the spoon. Some may need a little coaxing. If they don’t open their mouth, put the spoon to their lips and see if they respond. Don’t ever force the spoon into their mouth.
Mealtimes should be pleasant, so don’t force your baby to eat if they don’t want to. If they refuse at first, it may be a sign that they’re not ready. If they’ve been eating solids for a while and then refuse something, it may be that they don’t like that food or just aren’t interested. So follow their cues. Talk to your doctor if your baby does not have an interest in taking solids after trying for a few weeks, or if they are having problems with feeding such as choking, gagging, or vomiting.
Try to have the whole family eat together, as this has been shown to have positive effects on a child’s development and bonding with the family.
Learn About Safe Homemade Baby Food Preparation with these Homemade Baby Food Food Safety Tips
You can safely and easily make your baby’s food with little time and effort. Homemade baby food is the healthiest alternative to using commercial baby foods and the end result is a tasty array of foods that you just cannot get when using commercial jars. Contrary to some beliefs, making homemade baby food is very safe when you follow a few simple procedures.
One of the things that the baby food companies do have that you won’t be able to access is the tools for industrial sterilization and cleansing. This does not mean that you cannot guard against food borne pathogens or other unwanted items in your homemade baby food. Here are a few simple and relatively quick things that you can do to ensure your baby food is safe.
Preparation – You, the Areas and the Tools
Always be sure to thoroughly wash your hands. Yes, it seems so common- sensical ; we just wanted to remind you. Make sure that any tools or areas you use such as countertops, utensils, pots and pans, cutting boards and blender/food processors are thoroughly cleaned; preferably with an anti-bacterial soap (using a natural anti-bacterial soap is a fine option for those opposed to commercial cleansers).
Never use the same cutting board for meats and fruits/vegetables. You should have a cutting board solely for meat preparation and a cutting board solely for vegetable/fruit preparation.
Safe Methods of Proper Food Preparation
Fruits and Vegetables:
Always be sure to thoroughly wash and cleanse the fruits and vegetables that you will be using to make your baby food. Even if you are not using the peels or skins, and even if you buy organic, you should always cleanse the produce.
Peeling skins, and pitting or removing the seeds is important prior to cooking. There are however instances when you do not need to peel, pit or remove seeds; these instances will vary according to your baby’s age, the fruit/vegetable that you are cooking and way in which you will be cooking the food item.
Using a wooden cutting board is safer than plastic. It has been shown that bacteria is easier to cleanse/remove from wooden cutting boards.
When preparing and/or handling Meats, you should always have clean hands or use plastic gloves whenever possible.
If you are going to be moving from preparing meats to preparing another food item, always wash your hands prior to handling the next food. Always wash your hands after handling meats, specifically after handling poultry products – including eggs.
Do no use the same prep surfaces or the same utensils that have been, or will be, used for your fruits or vegetables. Using a wooden cutting board is safer than plastic. It has been shown that bacteria is easier to cleanse/remove from wooden cutting boards.
Always thaw meats in the refrigerator or the microwave and never on the counter. Never give an infant raw or semi-cooked meats, poultry, fish and eggs. In other words, babies and even toddlers need their meats “Well-Done”.
To ensure the utmost in safety, all meats such as poultry and red meats, including fish, should be cooked as shown *:
Cook all red meats to an internal temperature of at least 160° Fahrenheit. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer.
Cook white meat poultry to an internal temperature of at least 170° Fahrenheit and dark meat poultry to an internal temperature of at least 180° Fahrenheit for doneness. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer.
Cook fish to an internal temperature of 160° Fahrenheit. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer.
Other Food Safety Tips and Musts
Leaving foods out on the counter or at room temperature: Do not leave uncooked or even cooked foods out on the counter at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
Frozen foods should not be allowed to thaw and then be re-frozen without first being cooked. Frozen foods should remain at a temperature of 0 degrees or lower.
Baby Food and Infant Formula
Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to foodborne illness because their immune systems are not developed enough to fight off infections. That's why extra care should be taken when handling and preparing their food and formula.
The most important action that you can take to prevent foodborne illness in your babies and children is to wash your hands. Your hands can pick up harmful bacteria from pets, raw foods (meat, poultry, seafood, eggs), soil, and diapers.
Always wash your hands:
- Before and after handling food
- After using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets.
Other ways to keep your baby’s food safe:
- Check the packaging of commercial baby food before serving: The following may indicate that the food is contaminated or at risk of bacterial contamination:
- For jars: Make sure that the safety button on the lid is down. Discard any jars that don’t “pop” when opened or that have chipped glass or rusty lids.
- For plastic pouches: Discard any packages that are swelling or leaking.
- Don’t “double dip” with baby food: Never put baby food in the refrigerator if the baby doesn’t finish it. Your best bet: Don’t feed your baby directly from the jar of baby food. Instead, put a small serving of food on a clean dish and refrigerate the remaining food in the jar. If the baby needs more food, use a clean spoon to serve another portion. Throw away any food in the dish that’s not eaten. If you do feed a baby from a jar, always discard any remaining food.
- Don’t share spoons: Don’t put the baby’s spoon in your mouth or anyone else’s mouth – or vice versa. If you want to demonstrate eating for your baby, get a separate serving dish and spoon for yourselv.
- Never leave any open containers of liquid or pureed baby food out at room temperature for more than two hours: Harmful bacteria grows rapidly in food at room temperature.
- Store opened baby food in the refrigerator for no more than three days: If you’re not sure that the food is safe, remember this saying: “If in doubt, throw it out.”
General Information on Baby Food
Once Baby Arrives: Food Safety for Moms-to-Be (FDA)
Do’s and don’ts for feeding your baby, plus tips on microwaving baby food and when to call the doctor.
If you’re the parent or caretaker of an infant, you’ve probably heard that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for infants. In situations in which it’s not possible to breastfeed an infant, you may choose to use a commercially prepared infant formula.
Why can’t I give my baby cow’s milk?
Cow's milk by itself is not appropriate for infants less than 1 year old. Cow’s milk does not have the correct balance of nutrients for infants to grow and develop normally, and it can cause problems with anemia and kidney function.
Raw milk is never appropriate for infants – or anyone else. It should not be consumed by anyone at any time for any purpose. Raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, that can pose serious health risks.
But isn’t formula made from cow’s milk?
Most infant formula is made with cow's milk, but it has been modified and supplemented with additional nutrients. As a result, the formula is more nutritious and easier for the baby to digest than cow’s milk. Other formula options include soy-based formulas and hypoallergenic (or protein hydrolysate and amino acid-based) formulas. Special formulas are available for babies who are premature or have other health problems.
How does the government regulate infant formula?
The FDA does not approve infant formulas before they can be marketed. All formulas marketed in the United States, however, must meet Federal nutrient requirements. The FDA also monitors infant formula, which means that it inspects facilities that manufacture formula and analyzes samples.
What can I do to make sure that formula is safe for my baby?
Here are a few basic steps that you can follow to ensure that formula is safe from bacteria that can cause illness.
- Prepare safe water for mixing: Bring tap water to a roiling boil and boil it for one minute. If you use bottled water, follow this same process unless the label indicates that it is sterile. Then, cool the water quickly to body temperature before mixing the formula.
- Use clean bottles and nipples: You may want to sterilize bottles and nipples before first use. After that, it’s safe to wash them by hand or in a dishwasher.
- Don't make more formula than you will need: Formula can become contaminated during preparation, and bacteria can multiply quickly if formula is improperly stored. Your best bet: prepare formula in smaller quantities on an as-needed basis to greatly reduce the possibility of contamination. And always follow the label instructions for mixing formula.Many new moms wonder how breastfeeding will affect their diet. You probably don't need to make any major changes to what you eat or drink when you're nursing, though there are a few important considerations to keep in mind:
Eat a well-balanced diet for your health
One of the wonders of breast milk is that it can meet your baby's nutritional needs even when you're not eating perfectly. (However, if your diet is too low in calories or relies on one food group at the exclusion of others, this could affect the quality and quantity of your milk.)
Just because your baby won't be harmed by your occasional dietary lapses doesn't mean that you won't suffer. When you don't get the nutrients you need from your diet, your body draws on its reserves, which can eventually become depleted. Also, you need strength and stamina to meet the physical demands of caring for a new baby.
Many breastfeeding moms feel extra hungry, which makes sense: Your body is working around the clock to make breast milk for your baby. Eating small meals with healthy snacks in between – the way you may have done during pregnancy – is a good way to keep your hunger in check and your energy level high.
Don't count calories
There's no single answer to how many calories a nursing mom needs. But in general, most women who are breastfeeding need about 500 calories more than moms who aren't – that's a total of 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day.
Instead of counting calories, follow your hunger as a guide to how much you need to eat.
The exact amount depends on a number of individual factors, such as your weight, how much exercise you get, how your metabolism works, and how frequently you're breastfeeding.
If you're concerned about putting on excess pounds, talk to your healthcare provider about your body mass index and what you can do to maintain a healthy weight.