One thing you do have to be prepared for is the possibility of your baby having a reaction to the food. Certain foods can cause alergic reactions in babies simply because their bodies aren’t mature enough to assimilate it. Some foods you should avoid when just starting out are egg whites, tomatos, nuts and nut butters (especially peanut butter), chocolate, and cow’s milk. If alergies run in your family, it would be wise to get your doctor’s advice on foods to avoid. Children will often outgrow alergies over time, but don’t take any chances.
I always read that you should wait a week between introducing different foods, but I have never stuck to this too rigidly. I did wait on the above-mentioned foods until my babies were over a year and have never had any alergic reactions with them. (Though you have this to consider with milk.) The older the baby is when you start, the less chance you have of them having a reaction to a certain food. And now I think that if foods are offered in the correct order, the chance of alergies diminishes.
I like to start with fruits (banana, papaya, mango, and apple are favorites here) and yoghurt , then veggies (potato, carrot, any that you cook for a short time in a small amount of water, then mash up with the water to retain the vitamins). By 8 – 10 months (once the lateral incisors are through), I start giving them eggs and meats (chicken, beef, fish). Soft meat like liver is good, or you can blend the meat into a paste with a baby food grinder. You may find, however, that your baby will eat it just fine when it is offered in small pieces. I used to give cooked cereals at this time but after reading that article on teeth and digestive juices (see pt.1 of this post), I am holding off for Scarlett. Once they are ready for them, you can give the cereal as is, or blend the grain into a powder and cook in a little water/milk to make it smoother. Oatmeal is a good first cereal.
|Lila at 8 1/2 months old.|
By the time my babies reach their first birthday, they eat almost all of what I cook for us, with very little being omitted. Since a good portion of what I cook uses Indian spices, I start by preparing their food separately, then slowly allowing them a little with the spices (usually mixed with some yoghurt) until they don’t mind the spice and digest it well. I don’t make the food too hot, so they get used to it quickly. Actually, most Asian diets are full of spicy food and children get used to it at an early age. We westerners are the ones who eat more bland food and worry about children having even a little spice. My kids love both.
Once you start your baby on solids, you will need to offer them water to aid in digestion. When they are only breastfeeding water isn’t necessary, unless you live in a place as hot as I do. There are times when I know Scarlett isn’t hungry, just thirsty, and she will guzzle water from her bottle until satisfied. When Logan was a baby we lived in a cooler climate so he hardly ever touched water, but both Lila and Scarlett started it early since they were born into this heat. You can either use a regular bottle or offer a sippy cup with water at mealtime. Either one seems to work fine; it is just personal preferrence.
– Babies don’t need solids until after they get their first tooth, but if the teeth show up early, wait until they are at least 6 months old.
– First introductions are just to get baby used to the taste and feel of solids. Breastmilk should still be their main food.
– Start with fruits and veggies, then proteins, and finally, grains.
– Be cautious when introducing known alergy-causing foods, and watch for any reaction. Avoid them if alergies run in your family.
– Offer your baby water once they start solids.