It is a no-brainer that the first food for babies is just breastmilk or formula, as it provides the ideal nutrition. Experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months after birth. But, by ages 4-6months, depending on your child’s individual developmental progress, most babies are ready to start taking solid foods as a complement to breastfeeding or formula-feeding.
What are Babies’ Foods?
First foods for babies are either liquid pastes or easy-to-chew solids, since babies lack developed muscles or teeth to effectively chew, added to their diets to complement breastmilk and infant formula.
Essentially, babies begin by taking liquid style baby foods consisting of pureed vegetables and fruits, sometimes mixed with cereal and formula or breastmilk. Then, as the baby is able to chew, small, soft pieces or lumps may then be included. Adequate care should be taken to carefully mash or prechew, or break solids into manageable pieces for your baby.
RELATED: WHEN AND WHICH BABY FOOD TO START?
HOMEMAKING FIRST FOODS FOR BABIES
This is an alternative method to the commercial means of getting a jar or box of ready-to-eat baby food.
In homemaking your first foods for babies, you must ensure there’s a sufficient and varied diet, as well as access to refrigeration and basic sanitation. It is also worthy to note that you may need to prepare your baby’s foods separately without some of the additives that the family chooses to eat. Overall, it may need to be minced or pureed for your baby.
When should your Baby have their First Foods?
Each child’s readiness for solid foods depends on their own rate of development, and this factor tops the list in deciding whether or not your baby is ready to graduate to a more varied diet. Introducing solids too early or too late can greatly affect their development. Hence, more than any projected age, you need to know when your baby is ready.
how do you know your child is ready?
You will know your child is ready for his first baby’s foods when he does the following:
- Able to sit upright and hold up his head.
- Looks around him in curiosity, especially what you or others are eating.
- Reaches for food off other family members’ plates.
- Loses tongue thrust reflex that automatically pushes food out of his mouth.
- Seems to remain hungry after a full day’s portion of breast or formula milk.
Your Babies’ First Foods
Baby foods vary from culture to culture, and so, what would go best for your baby would largely be dependent on that. For instance, in the Nigerian Yoruba culture, “Eko” which is liquid pap made from sorghum or maize is the baby’s first food. While in the North American USA culture, infant cereal and later pureed fruits or vegetables remain the ideal choice.
Despite the diversities, a variety of foods remain generally ideal as first foods for babies. There is no definite “best babies’ food”, but, it is always a great idea to start with iron-rich foods and iron-fortified cereal.
Solids may be introduced in any order. However, pureed meats, fruits, vegetables, poultry, and other proteins are recommended as first foods, especially if your baby has been primarily breastfed, as they provide key nutrients. Specific examples of such foods include: pureed banana, avocados, eggs, nuts and seeds, oatmeal, etc.
The World Health Organization recommends starting small and gradually increasing as the child gets older. They proposed that 2-3meals per day for babies 6-8month old; and, 3-4meals per day for babies 9-23month old, with 1 or 2 additional snacks, depending on your babies’ needs.
When your Baby Refuses their Foods
Babies generally show some resistance when they are introduced to their first foods. Going forward, babies refuse to eat for diverse reasons, and that is just fine. Your baby may be tired, sick, distracted, or just full.
To show he doesn’t want it, your baby may do any of the following:
- Turn his head away
- Close his mouth
- Spit the food out
- Acts cranky
What to do?
There’s no strict rule here, but, depending on the situation, you may want to be sure that your baby is not too hungry or too full. You can leave it off for a while and then try again after some time. It is expected that the resistance would cease with time and practice. However, if this persists and your baby’s rejection of foods becomes worrisome, do talk to your child’s doctor.
On a final note: don’t ever force-feed your baby!
Don’t panic! It is just normal for the experience to have some ups and downs, but, a little patience and creativity can go a long way in making your baby’s first food experience fun for everyone involved!