During the stage of solids introduction, new moms have endless questions and concerns. They are not sure what to start with, how to store meals and the safety of each introduced food. While there are many healthy premade options, nothing beats a fresh homemade meal; it helps you know every single ingredient you are feeding your little one. Here are the top “Dos and Don’ts” of introducing solids and making homemade baby food.
Dos of Homemade Baby Food:
- Make sure your baby is ready
- Follow the three-day rule
- Consider the texture
- Start slowly
- Include proteins
Don’ts of Homemade Baby Food:
- Don’t feed leftovers
- Don’t introduce solids in a bottle
- Don’t stop reintroducing rejected foods
- Avoid force-feeding
- Don’t start with rice cereal
- Don’t give certain foods before 12 months
Make sure your baby is ready
When introducing solids, there is always a common debate whether to start at four or six months. You have to check with your pediatrician because every child is different. You have to be sure that your baby is ready. There are certain signs to look out for:
- They can sit up mostly on their own.
- They can hold their head up for a long time.
- They are interested in food and try to grab yours
- They get hungry in between breastfeeds
Follow the three-day rule
When introducing solids, never introduce two foods at the same time. Follow the three-day rule. Give one food at a time and stick to it for three days before including a new one. This will help you spot an allergic reaction. Common first allergic reactions are rash, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Consider the texture
The texture is key when introducing solids. At first, start with pureed foods to ease this new process for your baby. Adding some breast or formula milk can help smoothen the food. Then you can move to mashed foods, then minced and chopped ones gradually. By 12 months, your child should be ready to eat regular family meals.
At first, your child will not eat a whole meal. Just start with one to two spoonfuls. At this stage, you only want your baby to accept the taste and texture of food and get used to eating. You should keep your breastfeeding or formula feeding schedule the same and just include solids in between.
Don’t limit your baby’s food at that stage to fruits, vegetables, and cereals only. Chicken and meat protein are extremely essential for your baby’s wellbeing. They are very important sources of protein and iron. You can blend boiled beef or chicken into vegetable purees. Remember not to add salt.
Don’t feed leftovers
A baby’s immune system is less developed than adults. This makes them more vulnerable to infections. That’s why it’s important to maintain hygiene when cooking and serving food to your baby.
Don’t feed your baby directly from the jar or the box you’re storing the food in. Serve it on a separate plate. If they need more, make sure to use a clean spoon, other than the one you use for feeding, to serve another portion. Any leftovers on their plate should be thrown away. The baby’s saliva mixed with the unused food can start producing bacteria.
Don’t introduce solids in a bottle
While it seems easier to feed the baby solid food like rice cereal from the bottle, it’s a choking hazard. It’s extremely unsafe for the baby. There is also a misconception that giving a baby a rice cereal bottle before bed makes him/her sleep better.
Don’t stop reintroducing rejected foods
Don’t force your baby to eat any food he/she doesn’t like. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t retry. Reintroduce it a week later. Remember that all foods are new for your baby. Initial rejection doesn’t mean they don’t like the food. They have to try it more than once to get adapted to the taste.
Your baby is capable of setting its own pace of hunger and satiation. If babies refuse to open their mouths, this means they are full and should not be fed. Force-feeding over time makes your baby ignore his/her body signals, which can lead to issues with weight and health.
Don’t start with rice cereal
For years, new mothers have been advised to start introducing solids with rice cereal. However, this is unrecommended by medical advisors nowadays. Rice cereal is not the best option when you seek nutritious foods for your baby. Besides, there is a strong link between this type of food and suffering later in childhood from obesity.
Don’t give certain foods before 12 months
There are certain foods that are unrecommended for babies under one year old. Honey shouldn’t be given to a baby before 12 months to avoid the risk of botulism. This includes honey-sweetened cereals. You should also avoid undercooked meats and eggs.
While introducing dairy products, it differs from one baby to another; cow milk, in general, should be started after one year. Whole nuts shouldn’t be given to your baby at that age because they are a choking hazard. The optimum food is breastfed milk or iron-rich formula milk. This also applies to seasoning the food with sugar and salt.
- Checklist: Foods to Avoid For Babies Under 12 Months
- Baby’s First Year: What Spices and Sweeteners Can Babies Eat?
- Newborn and Baby Feeding Chart in the First Year
Sources used in this article:
- 8 Tips for Introducing Solid Foods With Baby-Led Weaning – Cleveland Clinic
- Tips for starting your baby on solids – Queensland Health
- Keeping your baby’s food safe – Michigan State University
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