Babies and toddlers need a controlled diet so that they grow and develop properly. All of them need the right amount of calories and nutrients to maintain the incredible rate of growth that young humans are undergoing in this very early period of their life. Baby food has always been in many ways an emotive subject because it is thought of as critical to life.
In the first few months of a baby’s life, the only food they need is breast milk. In the middle of their first year, the baby begins to show interest in other foods rather than just breast milk or indeed formula. all these continue to be important parts of a baby’s nutrition until full weaning is possible.
Introducing other foods is not a defined process or indeed governed by time but at 6 months, slightly before or after, a baby begins to want other foods. It was thought that a baby might be able to eat solid food at four months old but the current recommendation is to start solids at the 6 month stage. A baby has a digestive system which is able to cope with any new foods and their taste buds actually develop at this stage. It seems that in the very early month they have a reflex which makes them push out food as soon as the tongue feels it. At the 6 month stage that is lost.
There are a few stages to introducing food to a baby:-
- The puree is probably the easiest. Fruit and vegetable purees are great. Some rice cereals also work but eating cereal is not vital.
- Once 3 to 5 weeks have passed on from eating puree, try lumpy foods. The baby might also try such a food it it eating happily from a spoon. Introduce new foods with slightly different textures and flavours.
- Foods for chewing are really important at 8 months of age. The finger food idea comes from wanting a baby to practice with its mouth which is why rusks and toast start to become attractive.
- By the first birthday, regular food should be introduced with a few modifications. To be honest, most foods we eat (save for some crazy notions such as eating chilli) are acceptable to a baby.
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