Becoming a parent comes with many decisions. From what type of stroller to buy to finding a doctor you trust – the minute those ten fingers and toes hit the planet – the list is endless! Along with your countless choices comes the decisions of what and how to feed your little one.
For the first four to six months, your baby will be on a liquid diet of breast milk or formula. Delaying the introduction of food as long as possible will help avoid allergies. At approximately six months, your baby is ready for solid foods:
- Begin with grains first (i.e. barley or brown rice),
- Follow with vegetables and fruits,
- At approximately 8 months you can introduce proteins such as pureed beef, turkey or chicken.
From 8 months on, your baby will be ready for a variety of tastes and textures and will begin picking up small soft foods and feeding himself. Here are some ideas to help create the perfect meal:
Make it look like a rainbow – Nature is very wise and will tip you off about the nutrient value of a food by the vibrant hues and colors it presents — the more colorful fruits and vegetables you can get into your baby’s diet, the better. Purple, orange, green and red produce are all loaded with minerals, vitamins and plant nutrients that have been shown to reduce and even prevent a variety of diseases and allergies. Great choices are sweet potatoes, squash, sweet peas, broccoli, spinach, kale, blueberries, apples, pears and banana.
Fat for the brain – Since almost 60 percent of a baby’s brain is comprised of fat, adding dietary fat is necessary for brain function, nerve transmission and immune system development. In addition to the fat your baby is getting from breast milk or formula, adding soft avocado pieces or avocado puree and omega 3 fortified products such as yogurt to his/her diet is recommended.
Protein power! – At approximately 8 months, a baby’s digestive system is developed enough to break down and reap the benefits from proteins such as beef, chicken and turkey.
Going organic –I am an enormous advocate of going organic, primarily because of the multitude of chemicals sprayed on our lawns and food. As a parent, whenever you have the opportunity to reduce toxic exposure for your children…do it! Going organic is good for the environment and a great way to help your community go green!
Picking the right grain – Eating cereal is one of the first foods babies tend to master. The general guideline is once your baby is eating approximately ½ cup of cereal per day, s/he is ready to have vegetables and fruits introduced and then to move on to meats. Barley is easy to digest and is often the #1 choice; brown rice, oatmeal and mixed grains are other options.
Feeding time is a whole new world that you and your baby will experience together – make it a happy and nutritious experience! Not only should you provide them with organic, nutrient dense food choices, but also watch their cues. Most infants are very in tune with their appetites and will be the first to tell you when they are ready to eat and what they enjoy. Before long, you will successfully build a mealtime routine together that the entire family will enjoy.
This article has been reprinted with permission from Sweetpea Baby Food www.sweetpeababyfood.com