Baby is growing quickly. They need good nutrition and feeding abilities to grow big and strong. Baby will go through many stages of feeding but they are all important to their growth.
Meal Time Tips
Keep baby on a regular feeding schedule as much as possible. During feeding, make sure the environment is calm and phones and other screens are off or put away. Baby’s meal times can be a great bonding experience so give them your full attention. Make eye contact with baby, talk to baby, or try singing gently.
What to Avoid Baby’s First Year
Avoid giving baby any solids before 4 months. They are not physically ready for solid foods, plus, this can increase their risk for food allergies. Baby should not drink cow’s milk until they are at least 1 year old. Supplementing solid foods with formula or breast milk is encouraged, but don’t make the switch to cow’s milk until 12 months.
Starting solid foods is a big step for baby! Babies should have only formula or breast milk until they are four months old, but parents can start introducing pureed foods between four and six months old, as long as baby can sit up in a high chair and has good head control. Keep in mind formula or breast milk will continue to be a key part of their nutrition until baby is one year old.
Transitioning to Table Foods
Children can begin eating table foods around 8 months. Give baby soft, mashed, or well cooked food that is easy to swallow. Present food in small pieces to prevent choking. Baby should try one new food every couple days to help detect potential food allergies.
By 12 months you can start giving baby open cups to drink out of. Spills happen! That’s okay and something you can expect. Alternate between giving your little one open cups and straws. Using each will help develop different mouth muscles.
Sensory and Motor Development for Feeding
Most adults don’t think about it, but there’s a lot involved in eating. You have to use lip control to help move the food from the utensil to your mouth and motor skills to move your mouth. Sensory processing is also involved in feeding. There are new textures and tastes that kids are experiencing for the first time. If you are concerned about your child’s feeding development, contact your healthcare provider.
How do I transition my baby to solid foods?
Sometimes it helps to begin and end baby’s meal with breast milk or formula while they are transitioning to solid foods, so they do not become too frustrated when they are hungry. Alternating between the bottle and spoon can help baby connect the idea of spoon feeding with the comfort of nursing. Remember: while it’s okay to continue breast milk or formula, baby should not have any cow’s milk until they are 12 months old.
What types of food can I give baby once they have transitioned to table food?
Give baby a variety of foods. Different textures and shapes should be provided. A few suggestions for food to give to baby include:
- sweet potatoes
- green beans
- well-cooked pasta
- soft fruits
Parents should avoid giving baby foods that are heavily salted, buttered, or sweetened.
Is there anything I should not do when starting to give baby solid food?
Do not feed baby solids from a bottle unless their healthcare provider suggests otherwise. This can drastically increase the amount of food baby eats at each feeding and cause gagging. Learning how to sit up, learn to use utensils, and rest in between bites are good feeding habits to develop.
What are the symptoms of food allergies?
Skin problems such as rashes, hives, or swelling; stomach problems such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; and breathing problems are all symptoms of food allergies. Other signs include pale skin or light-headedness.
What should I do if I think my child has food allergies?
Talk to your child’s healthcare provider. They might recommend allergy testing via a skin prick or blood test or trying a special diet to help determine which food is causing the allergies.
If they do have a food allergy, keep your child away from foods containing these ingredients. Make sure to inform your child’s school and any caretakers about their allergies or medicines recommended by your child’s healthcare professional to relieve symptoms.
What are some common food allergies?
Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat cause 90% of food allergies. Introducing one new food every four days can help determine if a certain food is causing an allergic reaction.
For more information on food allergy trends, read our post on the rise of food allergies.
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