I started my daughter on solid foods at five and a half months because she was sitting up by herself and grabbing for my food. She also started drinking water from a cup, however I continue to breastfeed her after meals and sometimes before meals.
Most babies start eating solid foods at six months; they don’t need teeth to eat pureed food and tiny pieces of food. In addition to solids, babies still need breast milk or formula to obtain most of their nutrients. Health Canada recommends breastfeeding for up to two years and beyond. When you decide to wean your baby from breast milk or formula, you should choose milk with a high fat content such as homogenized milk. Cow’s milk can interfere with iron absorption and can also be hard for a baby under the age of one to digest. However, cheese and yogurt are easier to digest than milk and can be introduced to your baby the time he or she is eight or nine months.
What to Feed Your Baby and How Much
My daughter’s doctor recommend that I give her iron-fortified cereal once a day and then introduce fruits, vegetables and meat. I give her a few tablespoons of organic barley or oatmeal cereal at breakfast and often mix it with homemade apple sauce, mashed banana or another fruit. For supper she usually has a tablespoon of veggies and meat. Now that my daughter is seven and a half months old, I feed her two meals a day but plan to give her three meals a day as she continues to eat more.
At six to seven months, babies should have mostly pureed or mashed food. At eight to nine months, you can experiment with different textures and start serving finger food. For example, strips of toast and quartered grapes. Babies usually master the pincer grasp at nine months of age and can start to feed themselves. Let your baby feel the food and hold her own spoon. I often give my daughter a spoon to play with while I feed her with a second spoon.
Your baby will decide how much she wants to eat. As your baby eats more, try to include food from all the food groups throughout the day. Signs that your baby is full include spitting the food out, turning her head away or refusing to open her mouth. When your baby first starts eating, she will likely eat only a few teaspoons at a time. As your baby gets older and eats more, you can work up to a few tablespoons per meal.
Homemade vs. Store Bought
There are many gadgets on the market for making and storing your own baby food. However, given the short amount of time that your baby will be eating pureed foods (one or two months), I recommend using items that you already have in your kitchen. You can use a fork, a food processor or a blender to mash and puree raw or cooked foods for your baby. I steam apples and puree them with water. Next, I freeze them in ice cube trays and store them in a plastic bag.
If you decide to buy baby food, read the ingredients carefully. I received a sample of baby cereal in the mail and was shocked by how many grams of sugar it contained. Now I use organic baby cereal that contains 0.8 grams of sugar per serving. Babies don’t need added sugar and salt in their diet. I have opted to not give my daughter juice. Eating fruit provides more nutrients than drinking fruit juice. If you decide to give your baby juice, ensure it doesn’t contain added sugar.
It is a good idea to feed your baby the same food for two to three days to ensure that she is not allergic to that particular food and to get her used to the food. For example, the first day I fed my daughter kiwi she appeared to not like it but then on the second and third day, she liked it. By the end of the three days, I was comfortable that she wasn’t allergic. Also, if your baby has tried and enjoyed carrots and butternut squash, then you can mix these two foods together.
Babies should not be given honey until age one. Honey may contain spores that could cause botulism, and a baby’s digestive system cannot digest those spores yet. Due to possible allergies, many say that eggs, seafood and nuts should be avoided. Neither my husband nor I have food allergies, so I saw no reason to avoid these foods in my daughter’s diet. My daughter has had boiled and scrambled eggs and enjoys both. While vacationing in British Columbia, my daughter really loved the scallops, crab and salmon. I haven’t given her nuts yet but I plan to give her peanut butter.
Although introducing solids to your little one can seem daunting, before you know it, he or she will be dining right along with you. It just takes a few baby steps to get there.
By: Serena Beck