Feeding your baby can be very confusing with conflicting information coming from various sources. In our first article we discussed the benefits of breastfeeding, when to introduce solid food and how. Now that your baby is past the 7 month mark, you likely have a lot more questions such as: What foods are important to wait until after the age of 2 ? age of 3 ? These questions and more will be addressed in this article and hopefully shed some light on how to feed your most precious bundle of joy!
The following information has largely been adapted from The Baby's Table by Brenda Bradshaw and Lauren Donaldson Bramley, M.D.
Though your baby is still small, it never hurts to begin establishing a positive relationship with food and encouraging them to partake in eating activities, despite needing to be spoon-fed still. Experiment by giving your baby a very small amount of food puree in a bowl and letting them explore and find their own mouths. The key here is: a tiny amount! (Unless you don't mind your puree ending up on the floor, in their hair and virtually everywhere else!) Bibs, at this point, are a must.
At the age of 7 months, your baby is able to (finally) eat uncooked fruit! Be sure to scour the stores and only serve your baby well-ripened fruit for its ease on the digestive system and that it is less likely to cause gas. Everything should be washed and peeled, and mashable fruits can be combined with breastmilk or formula to get a porridge-like consistency. Dried fruit is also a possibility after it has been stewed for at least 25 minutes and pureed, but be sure to limit its quantity as they can be high in sugars.
NOTE: Oranges and citrus fruits are highly acidic and should not be introduced until after your baby is 1 year. Grapes should be sliced length-wise and never served whole as this presents a choking hazard.
Though your baby might have a few teeth appearing and seems eager to chomp down on things, all vegetables should still be cooked. You can cut down on cooking times significantly though as they may be able to eat firmer foods now – keeping nutrients intact and your baby interested. Be sure to puree and extend cooking times if your baby is in the painful period of cutting their first teeth, which can be common at 6 months.
NOTE: Cherry Tomatoes should be sliced length-wise and never served whole as this presents a choking hazard.
A favorite among babies, pasta is sure to be a crowd pleasure with your little one. Tiny pastas such as pastina, orzo or couscous do not need to be pureed, but larger varieties such as rigatoni or penne should be made in bulk, pureed and frozen. For older babies, starting from 8 to 10 months, these larger pastas can be served as finger food.
NOTE: Many gluten-free alternatives are available for those children who are gluten intolerant or diagnosed as celiac.
At this point, you may decide that you want to introduce other proteins to your baby such as red meats. The occasional consumption of it (should it fit your moral and environmental lifestyle) can help prevent iron-deficiency anemia in your baby and is a good source of protein at this time. Additionally, baby cereals, broccoli, spinach and legumes are also excellent sources of iron and are easy to prepare and puree for baby as well.
NOTE: Egg white and egg yolk should be avoided until your baby is at least 12 months to aovid the possibility of a food allergy. Peanuts, peanut butter and shellfish should also be avoided until 18 months for the same reason. All varieties of milk should not be served until at least 2 years of age and only after consultation with your doctor. Yoghurt may be introduced in limited quantities at 8 months but be sure to opt for only plain and organic varieties.
In the next article, we will discuss methods for feeding toddlers (into the second year of life) and what tips and tricks can help with picky eaters!
This article was written by Nakita Valerio, B.A, CSN, BMSA Technician. She has been working for Optimum Health Vitamins since 2007, during which she has gained a deep appreciation and understanding for the complexities of human nutrtition, and has spent hundreds of hours researching the topic. Her current position is online media assistant - a job she currently enjoys from Morocco!
Disclaimer: The above information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.