Feeding Your Baby & Best First Foods Your Baby Should be Eating

Health
As a parent, you want only the best for your child and food definitely tops the list. Through good nutrition, you can give a solid start to your baby’s overall growth and development in the coming years.

However, feeding babies can be very tricky as they have very sensitive digestive systems. Thus, it becomes even more important to feed your baby the right food in the initial few months.
It is important to introduce one solid food at a time and in small amounts to allow your baby to get used to it. It usually takes about 3 days to see if there is any allergic reaction.Plus, do not forget to consult your pediatrician about introducing solid foods on your baby’s diet.

Feeding Your Baby

When should you introduce solids? And how much should you give your little one? Use our chart as a guide

If your child is 4 months old and can hold her head up, the time may be right to introduce solids. Use this chart as a guide, but remember that until age 1, food should supplement breast milk or formula, not replace it.

Age 4-6 Months

What to start?
Rice cereal. It’s
the least likely to cause allergies, and it provides
a valuable source of iron.

How Much?
Mix 1 tsp. of cereal
with 1 Tbs. of breast milk or formula. (Over
time, you can make the cereal thicker and servings
larger.) Aim for one or two solid feedings a
day in addition to his usual diet.

Tips for Success
Start with feedings
in the morning, when babies are typically more
relaxed. Wait four days before introducing another
grain, such as barley. This will help you identify
an allergy.

Age 4-8 Months

What to start?
Fruits and veggies. These can be
introduced either before or after cereal at each
meal. Try anything from peas to pears, but offer
new foods a few days apart so you can watch for
allergies.

How Much?
To start, serve 2 to 3 tsp. once
a day. Work up to 1 to 2 Tbs. two or three times
a day.

Tips for Success
Introduce vegetables first, before
your baby develops a preference for the sweet
taste of fruit, and wait until she’s 1 before
feeding her citrus fruits — their high acid
content can upset her stomach.

Age 8-12 Months

What to start?
Soft foods. Oatmeal, mashed sweet
potatoes, and yogurt are all easy for a baby
to eat. A child this age also needs additional
sources of iron, so try pureed meats like beef
or turkey.

How Much?
Gradually work up to 1 to 2 Tbs.
of soft foods and 2 Tbs. of pureed meat each
day. Babies can get overwhelmed, so offer only
two or three foods at one time.

Tips for Success
To interest your child, try placing
small amounts of new foods next to favorites.

Age 9-12 Months

What to start?
Finger foods. Your
baby has developed his superior pincer grasp
and is eager to try feeding himself. Offer cooked
pasta, soft bits of fruit, and dried cereals.

How Much?
One or two finger foods (about 1 to 2 Tbs. of each)at
each meal, in addition to several servings of the
foods above.

Tips for Success
Make sure all pieces
are smaller than the width of your child’s pinkie.
Continue to feed him with a spoon to make sure
he’s getting enough to eat each day.

Age 12-24 Months

What to start?
Table foods. If you’re no longer giving your baby breast
milk or formula, be sure she’s getting all of
the calories and nutrients she needs by offering
her a wide variety of healthy foods.

How Much?
Total servings per day (serving sizes in parentheses):
4 grains (1/2 slice bread, 1/4 to 1/2 cup cereal
or pasta); 4 fruit/veggie (1 to 2 Tbs., or
3 oz. juice); 2 protein (1 oz. meat or 1 egg);
4 dairy (4 to 6 oz. whole milk, 1/3 cup yogurt,
or 1/3 oz. cheese).

Tips for Success

Entice your child to eat a varied diet by always providing different
textures, colors, and flavors at mealtime.

How much solid food a baby will be eating depends on a variety of different things.

Don’t forget that your baby is a little human being, and like all of us, she has her own appetite. This will influence to how much solid foods she will be eating. As with adults, some babies will eat more than others due to their individual appetites. Below are a few key points to remember when feeding your baby.

  • A baby who began solid foods at 4 months of age will most likely be eating more solid foods than the baby who began to eat solid foods at 6 months old.
  • A baby who is eating soft diced foods as beginner foods may seem to eat less than the baby who is being spoon-fed purees.
  • A baby who is ill or teething may eat less than what has been typical for a few days and then suddenly the typical appetite comes roaring back.An infant who is busy exploring the carpet or the new soft-book she has received may be miffed when she is put into a high chair and offered food.
  • The natural slow down of growth that babies go through will also influence how much they eat.
  • They may be ravenous for a few days or a week or two and then suddenly, they are barely eating.   Babies who are coming out of a growth spurt will tend to eat less than they were during the growth spurt.

Among a year of many firsts, it’s a milestone when your bundle of joy is ready for solid foods after reaching 5 or 6 months old.

Until 5 months, breast milk is the best food for your baby. In fact, you should continue nursing even after you begin introducing solid foods.

Note: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is important to wait until your baby is at least 3 months old before offering foods with naturally occurring nitrates, such as carrots, spinach, beets, squash, broccoli, and green beans as it may cause a type of anemia called methemoglobinemia in young infants. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes and parsnips also contain nitrates.

Here are the 10 best first foods for your baby.


1. Apples

apples for babies

For the apple of your eye, apples are a great food that can be introduced between 6 and 8 months of age.

An apple a day is indeed extremely good for your baby’s health. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, apples are the number one fruit liked by kids.

One of the most important nutritional components of apples is the fiber content, which helps maintain bowel regularity. Other nutrients in apples include vitamins A and E, folate, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium.

Experts recommended serving applesauce instead of whole apples to babies upto 8 months old.

Simply peel an apple and cut it into small pieces.
Cook the apple pieces with 1 cup of water or apple juice over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
Allow it to cool, then mash it with a fork to a thin consistency.

2. Bananas

bananas for babies

Just like apples, bananas are another key food that you can give your baby after he or she reaches 5 months age.

Rich in potassium, bananas help control the body’s water balance. Potassium also helps with muscle functioning and is responsible for the relaxation of your baby’s heart muscle and heart rhythm. It even reduces the risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis in the future.

In addition, bananas will give your baby a good amount of carbohydrates that provides sustained energy as well as fiber that supports a healthy digestive tract.

Use a fork to thoroughly mash a ripe banana until it has the consistency of pudding. Then, serve it to your baby.
For older babies, chopped bananas are an excellent finger food.

3. Avocados

One of the best foods that you can feed your baby is avocados. You can introduce avocados into your baby’s diet after he or she reaches 4 months of age.

Being loaded with monounsaturated fats, they aid brain development. This type of fat also gives your baby a boost of much-needed energy. Plus, the dietary fiber in them ensures smooth digestion.

In addition, avocados have a mild taste and smooth consistency that most babies like.

Avocados are also super easy to prepare.

Simply mash a very ripe avocado with a fork.
Add a little breast milk or formula milk to the mashed avocado.
Mix thoroughly until it reaches a pureed consistency.

4. Pears

Pears are another nutritious fruit that can be introduced into your baby’s diet. The right age for introducing pears is between 6 and 8 months old.

This tasty fruit is rich in fiber, copper and vitamin C. The fiber promotes healthy digestion, and doctors often recommend pears as a remedy to help alleviate a baby’s constipation. Vitamin C and copper protect the body’s cells from damage and support the immune system.

Apart from being a good source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, pears are gentle on your baby’s sensitive digestive system.

There is no need to cook pears. When they are ripe, they are very soft and can easily be made into a smooth puree.

5. Carrots

Carrots are also one of the top first foods for babies, as they are easy to swallow and digest and even tasty to eat.

This root vegetable contains beta-carotene that aids healthy development of a baby’s skin, eyesight and immune system.

Plus, carrots are packed with nutrients including vitamins C, K and B8, along with calcium, folate, potassium, iron, copper and manganese.

For babies who have not yet developed teeth, carrots can be boiled, baked or steamed and then pureed. Mix in formula milk to reach the desired consistency.
For babies who have started chewing, carrots can be served in soft slices for your baby to enjoy.
Chilled carrot sticks can be given to babies who have started teething.
Note: Always peel the skin off carrots, as infants are not able to digest the skin.

6. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are another delicious addition to your baby’s diet. Most babies like the creamy, sweet taste.

Sweet potatoes are one of the richest sources of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for good vision, healthy skin and a baby’s overall growth and development.

A 2012 study published in Food and Nutrition Bulletin reports that sweet potato-based complementary foods are superior to enriched Weanimix for infants in low-income countries, based on the fructose and phytate levels.

Cook peeled and washed sweet potatoes in enough water to cover them in the pan. Cook them until they are soft.
Mash the soft sweet potatoes.
Add a little water or formula milk to make it thinner before serving it to your baby.

7. Squash

squash for babies

Another vegetable that is great for babies is squash, especially butternut and acorn squash. In fact, the bland or savory flavor of squash makes a healthy alternative to sweet fruits. It can be introduced to babies between 6 and 8 months old.

Squash is an excellent source of vitamins A and C. While vitamin A is needed for good vision and healthy skin, vitamin C is needed for good immunity so that your baby can fight off infections easily.

Other nutrients in squash are potassium, calcium, folate, protein, carbohydrates, and dietary fiber.

Bake or roast some squash (without the seeds).
Put the pulp of the baked squash and a little formula milk in the blender.
Blend it into a smooth consistency. As your baby gets used to eating pureed food, increase the thickness.
Note: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is important to wait until your baby is at least 3 months old before offering foods with naturally occurring nitrates, such as carrots, spinach, beets, squash, broccoli, and green beans as it may cause a type of anemia called methemoglobinemia in young infants. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes and parsnips also contain nitrate

8. Greek Yogurt

greek yogurt for babies

Greek yogurt is a yummy food that is considered a healthy first food for babies. Most pediatricians recommend giving Greek yogurt to babies around 7 to 8 months of age.

It is a great source of protein, which supports the health of the body’s cells, tissues and organs as a baby grows. Plus, the fat in Greek yogurt supports proper growth.

Other nutrients in Greek yogurt are vitamins A and D, calcium and phosphorous.

Being a fermented food that has a good amount of gut-friendly bacteria, yogurt is easily digested by little tummies.

In addition, along with the super creamy texture, Greek yogurt has a nice tangy flavor that most babies enjoy.

Serve plain Greek yogurt to younger babies and do not add any sugar to it.
For older babies, try mixing blueberry, banana, apple or pear puree into the yogurt

9. Broccoli

broccoli for babies

Brimming with vitamin C, fiber and calcium, broccoli is another good first food for your child. Usually, it should be introduced around the age of 8 to 10 months.

Vitamin C gives a boost to your baby’s developing immune system. The calcium in broccol helps foster good eyesight and ward off cell damage. The fiber in it ensures good digestion. It also has several B vitamins that aid in improving the functioning of the nervous system.

Other key nutrients in broccoli are iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and folic acid.

Plus, the unique flavor of broccoli can help expand your baby’s taste palate.

Steamed and pureed broccoli is good for younger babies.
For older babies, steamed broccoli florets work as great finger food.

10. Parsnips

parsnips for babies

Once your baby reaches 6 to 8 months of age, you can introduce parsnips in his or her diet. In fact, it is often overlooked as a great food for babies. Related to carrots, the sweet and slightly nutty flavor of parsnips is sure to please their tiny taste buds.

This root vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin C, calcium, fiber and protein. While vitamin C is needed for building immunity, the calcium promotes healthy bones and teeth. The protein in it supports the health of the body’s cells.

Simply peel, slice and steam parsnips in the required amount of water until they are tender and mushy. Chop or mash the steamed parsnips, depending upon your baby’s preference.
You can also serve steamed parsnips as a finger food.
Note: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is important to wait until your baby is at least 3 months old before offering foods with naturally occurring nitrates, such as carrots, spinach, beets, squash, broccoli, and green beans as it may cause a type of anemia called methemoglobinemia in young infants. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes and parsnips also contain nitrate

Certain foods to avoid during your baby’s first year:

Do not substitute cow’s milk as a replacement for breast milk or formula. Cow’s milk is harder for your baby to digest.
Avoid giving any sticky or hard foods, as they can cause your baby to choke.
Whole nuts are also not safe for babies under 2 years of age.
For children below 1 year of age, honey is not recommended as it can cause infant botulism.
Do not feed your baby unpasteurized cheese, as it increases the risk of food poisoning in young babies.
Do not give shellfish like shrimp, lobster, crab and scallops to babies below 1 year of age.
Also, fish that are high in mercury, such as swordfish, shark, tile fish or king mackerel, are not recommended.

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