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The baby will have adequate nutrition for the first six months of its life through its mother’s breast milk. However, as the baby grows, its requirements will begin to change. Although he will get most of his nutrients from breast milk or formula, solids and cereals are recommended at this stage.
You may even want to start your baby on solids after four months if you feel that the baby is not satisfied with the usual milk feed or is not gaining enough weight or maybe even losing weight. Fortified cereals such as baby rice are a good way to introduce solids into baby’s diet. They can be mixed with breast milk or formula that babies continue to prefer and at the same time contain the essential vitamins and minerals needed to help babies grow. You can also start introducing pureed fruits and vegetables to your baby’s diet to accustom his palate to a wider range of tastes.
Here are some staple foods that suit your baby best once you start the weaning process – cooked potato, sweet potato, baby rice, cooked swede, turnip and carrot, soft dessert pear and apple and banana. Make sure you puree, sieve or puree the foods to get all the lumps out. Avoid adding spices, salt or sugar.
These complementary foods in the form of solids can be given to the baby once or twice a day, before, after or during the baby’s milk, depending on your baby’s needs. Later you can start to coincide your mealtimes with the baby’s solid foods for convenience. Once the baby is used to pureed foods, give him foods that he can pick up and eat on his own without your help. Foods are usually cut so that the baby can hold them and put them in the mouth without any problems and include cooked vegetables, pear and apple slices, carrot sticks, celery and cucumber and cooked peas. You can also offer the baby slices of bread or toast, salty cheese biscuits without salt, tiny sandwiches with grated cheese, mashed bananas or sugar-free preserves, cheese fingers, cooked thick pieces of pasta that fit easily into the mouth. Don’t give fried food, or anything spicy. Avoid nuts if the baby is allergic to peanuts or other such nuts.
As for drinks, milk (breast or formula) is the only drink your baby needs for about the first year. You can give your baby plain boiled water from about six months onwards. Whole, pasteurized cow’s milk can be given as a drink after one year of age. Since most juices contain either natural or artificial sugars, these should be limited to meals as they can damage teeth. Choose only those drinks that are intended for babies and are completely sugar-free. Pure fruit juice should be diluted as it also contains a high amount of sugar.
Prepared baby foods are readily available and very convenient, especially if you are a working mom or on the go. They are also available in a variety of flavors designed to suit baby’s needs. Babies love these foods that are made without salt, sugar or artificial preservatives. Most baby foods are nutritionally balanced to provide your baby with the necessary vitamins and minerals needed for healthy growth. When choosing prepackaged foods for your baby, you should check the ingredients and avoid those with added sugar or too many additives and flavors. Organic baby food is becoming quite popular and is now widely available. These provide your baby with the nutrients it needs naturally without artificial reinforcements from chemicals.
Again, if you have the time, preparing fresh meals at home is always a healthier option. It may take some time and effort, but it’s worth it and ensures your baby has the opportunity to experience the variety of tastes and flavors of home-cooked food. By supplementing breast milk or formula with different types of solids such as grains, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, you will be able to provide your baby with all the essential nutrients necessary for healthy growth and development.
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