The reason I chose to write on this topic today is because of the increasing confusion new mothers have on what they should be feeding their kids, as well as to also develop my growing interest to specialize in paediatrics.
It is actually recommended that parents don’t start feeding solids before 4-6 months. It is not safe to start feeding before this time because the baby’s digestive system is an intricate delicate system that continues to develop after birth. Muscles that support the digestive system have still not developed yet, and food will be unable to pass safely through if introduced when the baby is not ready. At 4-6 months, the baby’s digestive system has usually developed enough for solid foods. The jury is still out on whether it should be 4 or 6 months, but the latest Australian Paediatric guidelines recommend to not start any solids before 6 months.
Ideal first foods
The first solids need to be sloppy, smooth in texture (i.e. have no lumps) and mild in taste.
Other pureed foods to introduce are: vegetables such as pumpkin, potato, carrot and zucchini; fruit such as cooked apple, pear, melon and banana.
It isn’t necessary to add salt, sugar, honey or other flavourings to any food.
First start with one to two teaspoons of solids. You can gradually increase the quantity to two to three tablespoons, and then build up to three meals a day at your baby’s own pace.
It is important that you try one new food at a time and introduce a new food every 4 days, adding onto your child’s existing diet. This can help keep track of any adverse side effects that may arise if your child is allergic to a type of food, as you’ll be able to tell which one triggered a reaction.
It is therefore not recommended that you do not give combinations until the child has already had both foods and you’re sure there is no allergic reaction.
To save time, quantities of food can be frozen in ice cube trays or stored in airtight plastic bags and thawed as needed.
How about commercial baby foods?
Commercial baby foods are a good option for parents who don’t have time to make the food themselves. However, do take some time to read store-bought food labels. Generic brands can be just as healthy as some of the brand-name foods. You just need to take a minute or two to look at the ingredients. The fewer ingredients, the better it is.
The advantages of home-made baby foods is that parents have complete control over the ingredients, making homemade food a good option for infants with allergies or intolerances. Some parents also worry about preservatives that may be added to some commercial foods. Others complain that commercial varieties are too bland. In addition, home-making food can save lots of money.
However, my advice is that no matter which route you choose to take, homemade or commercial foods, the main goal is to make sure the baby gets adequate nutrition in order to grow healthy and reach all the developmental milestones.
This is definitely a preliminary guide, if you have any questions please feel free to ask below. 🙂