The most common question which parents have about starting food for babies is what to offer, when to offer and how much to offer. Every child is different and every parent is unique.
Some people introduce semi-solid food to their baby after 6 months, while some others start semi-solid food after completion of 4 months and a few people prefer to start it after 7-8 months. It is always advisable to discuss with your baby’s pediatrician regarding food plan before introducing any new food item to your baby.
I am sharing some tips based on my experience of being a mom for three years.
Baby Food Stage 1: Birth to 4 Months
What To Feed
Only food for infants is breast milk or infant formula to meet all their nutritional needs. The recommended milk is breast milk only. You should start giving formula or any other substitute only in case breast milk supply is not sufficient for the baby or she feels hungry even after having mother’s feed.
You should increase baby’s diet as baby’s digestive system is developing. Stomach size is the size of baby’s fist.
Food Chart for Breastfeeding Babies
|Birth to 1 month||Every 2 hours||60–120 ml|
|1 to 4 months||Every 2 to 3 hours||120-210 ml|
Food Chart for Formula Babies
|Birth to 1 month||Every 2 hours||60-120 ml|
|1 to 3 months||Every 2 to 3 hours||120-150 ml|
|3 to 4 months||Every 2.5 to 3.5 hours||150-210 ml|
Baby Food Stage 2: (4 to 6 Months)
At this stage, your infant’s milk or formula intake will increase (up to one litre per day). You will also notice that your baby will start showing the signs “momma, I am ready to eat solid foods”
Watch For These Signs
- Baby’s neck is stable
- Can sit with back support on chair
- Showing interest in food (staring at your food)
- Seems hungry after sufficient breast feed (crying, uneasiness, thumb sucking)
- Put a spoon in her mouth and see if she can open and close mouth around the spoon.
What to Feed
- Breast milk or formula milk
- Mashed banana and apple
- Well cooked, pureed and strained carrot and sweet potato
- Pulse soup after boiling pulse in sufficient water (water of moong dal)
The first food must be a single grain food. You should keep a gap of at least three days between two new foods. Test with small quantities. Watch out for any type of allergies. If you see any allergies then discontinue that particular food and talk to paediatrician regarding possible remedies of allergy. If your baby refuses to eat whatever you are offering then don’t force, just try it next day.
Baby Food Stage 3: (6 to 8 Months)
Usually by this time a baby’s first teeth emerge. At this stage, your baby starts crawling. Her digestive system is developing. You should introduce new foods while your baby is busy in exploring the world. She is doing more physical activities, so she needs more solid foods along with milk.
What to Feed
- Breast milk or formula
- Iron-fortified cereal like rice, oats mixed with milk
- Fruit Pureed like banana, peaches, pears, plum, mango. Mix two fruits together to taste it better.
- Vegetable pureed (completely cooked) like sweet potato, carrots, squash, beans and potato.
- Pulse soup after boiling pulse in sufficient water.
- Rice water after boiling rice in clean and filtered water. Give your baby just strained water.
- Unsweetened yogurt from low-fat milk (very small quantity)
- Small portion of Tofu or cheese
Introducing solid foods into your baby’s diet doesn’t mean to stop breast milk or formula; these are the most important source of nutrients for your baby.Never force your baby to eat a little more. Solid intake will increase gradually, it depends when you started giving her solid food.
Baby Food Stage 4: (8 to 10 Months)
Your baby has started crawling and sitting without support. She is more active and engaged in playing. She might refuse to eat her foods because she has more important activities to do like pulling pillows down, tearing newspaper and opening drawers or kitchen racks. This is the time when parents need to be more alert and active. You can’t leave your baby alone even for a second.
What to Feed
- Breastmilk or formula
- Introduce new grains and millets in your baby’s diet. Try with rajgira (amaranth), jau (barley), ragi (finger millet), til (sesame), pasta along with rice & oats.
- You might like to introduce wheat, kuttu (buckwheat) at this stage. (If your baby has any kind of food allergies then talk to your doctor)
- Fruits: Apples, banana, dates, grapes, mango, kiwi, plums, peaches, pears, litchi.
- You can mash any soft fruit (banana or apple). You can cut grapes into small pieces and give it to your baby. Don’t ever give her whole grapes. It may choke in her throat.
- Vegetables: completely cooked/steamed: Carrots, beans, broccoli, onion, peas, sweet potatoes and cauliflower and onions.
- Try foods like tofu, cottage cheese, fish, egg yolk.
- Fish and eggs can be allergic. So whenever you introduce it into your baby, monitor your child for any signs of allergic reactions. In the case of any allergies, talk to her paediatric immediately.
At this stage, your baby may start to refuse food. Don’t force. Just try it again after some time.
Baby Food Stage 5: (10 to 12 Months)
Now your baby’s taste buds are developing. She will love to try new food and flavours. Preparing your baby’s food will be easier as no more pureeing and mashing. At this time, you will learn to understand your baby’s tastes. You will know what she likes and dislikes. But don’t give only her favourite food. Babies love different shapes, colours, textures. Try same food in different forms. It is also the time to introduce spices that we Indians love.
What to feed
- Fruits: banana, pear, apple, peach, papaya, melon, grapes, kiwi fruit, mango, plum, litchi.
- Vegetables: potato, sweet potato, carrots, squash, peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, tomato, spinach, capsicum
- Cereal and grains: Jowar(sorghum), bajra(Pearl millet), oats, rice (white/brown), ragi(finger millet), jau(barley), wheat, kuttu(buckwheat), rajgira(amaranth) and pasta
- Pulses: Rajma(kidney beans), White Channa(chickpea), green peas and lentils
- Dairy: Low fat yogurt and cheese
- Non-veg: Fully cooked egg yolk, egg white, fish and meat
- Little bit of spices
You can make khichdi by mixing rice and pulses together.
Your baby will be able to digest anything after one year of age. You can start offering the same food to your baby that you have prepared for your meal.
Do let me know in the comments section if you have any additional thoughts on this!
Image credits: Nehagoyal
This article was originally published on the website “BabyGoGo“.